DualDisc Finds Success – With An Asterisk
DualDisc is a format that has been getting a lot of press since the majors new releases have been using the format. One side is a standard audio CD, the other side is a DVD and often comes with at least a 5.1 surround sound version of the album.
Bruce Springsteen’s new CD,
Devils & Dust
, will be available as a DualDisc. The DVD side has the first live performance of the songs from the album, and The Boss gives a personal introduction to each of the songs. It also has a 5.1 surround sound mix of the album. Unlike Universal Music Group, Sony BMG has not dropped suggested list prices of CDs. For
Devils & Dust
, like most non-Universal major label new releases, fans will find an $18.98 list price. Some labels are obviously not interested in dropping CD prices and would rather add extra content while keeping the list price steady. There is no non-DualDisc option for those consumers who would rather pay less and not own the DVD content. The only option to pay less and forego the DVD content have one option: buy a digital album. Those go for $9.99 and don’t include the DVD content.
Can you see the labels working? Every industry wants to segment the market according to the customers’ willingness and ability to pay. Those who are willing to pay more for an album will be encouraged to buy the more expensive DualDisc version. Now that the cheaper digital album is available to many Americans, a label has the ability to reach that market as well. Labels get to push a new format, the DualDisc, and may very well encourage growth in digital sales as well.
Of course, there are more than two market segments. The new Ben Folds album also has a DualDisc, and it will be available via online stores as usual. But there’s one additional way the label, Sony, is segmenting the market:
Songs For Silverman
is also available in a gold foil-embossed hardbound cover package with 40 pages of Ben’s personal photos and 45-minute DVD. The price tag? A suggested list of $24.98. That $18.98 DualDisc is looking pretty attractive to anybody who’s not a serious fan.
A cheaper no-frills CD may not be in the cards. From a retailer’s viewpoint it’s a pain to stock another CD. Any label that asks a store to carry two versions of all new releases is going to get a cold stare in return. Besides, labels and distributors probably don’t like the thought of dealing with another version of the same album. There may be only two options in the future: digital or DualDisc. That’s why DualDisc is so important to labels, and that’s why the industry is so interested in trumping a few DualDisc success stories. “Look at the sales of the
Devils & Dust
DualDisc,” they’ll say. “DualDisc is here to stay.” Well, sure, it’s a success…because it didn’t have any competition.
Dylan and Starbucks
Is Bob Dylan planning to release
The Gaslight Tapes
through the Starbucks chain?
“>Rolling Stone.com’s Steve Knopper wrote a piece on the company’s music ambitions
and says “sources say Bob Dylan and Sony Music are in talks with the chain” to release a collection of long bootlegged 1962 solo shows.
For Antigone Rising, Starbucks’ developing artist, exposure in the national chain is key. They’ll sell well, if only because being stocked by Starbucks acts like an endorsement that will carry weight with shoppers. Older consumers have told Starbucks they have a hard time finding out about new music. (Having a life, job, and kids gets in the way of reading magazines and surfing the Internet in the never-ending search for new music, right?) Starbucks helps out by introducing older music fans to new music.
Dylan, on the other hand, probably doesn’t need an endorsement or a promotional push by Starbucks. He doesn’t need Starbucks for exposure with the older, coffee-drinking segment. (He needed help reaching the
Victoria’s secret market
though didn’t he?)
If Dylan does team up with Starbucks, expect everybody from online music stores to national retail chains to complain about the exclusive. They might not complain publicly—independent store owners won’t have a problem speaking up—but they’ll be simmering on the inside.
Glenn works in the music industry in New York City. He writes about the industry and music in general at his blog,