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THE MORNING BUZZ: O CDs, Where Art Thou?

28 Feb, 2002 By: Kurt Indvik

As I watched the movie soundtrack for O Brother, Where Art Thou? take home Album of the Year and Soundtrack of the Year along with three other Grammys last Wednesday evening it struck me how apt this was in the face of the hard times the music industry is facing. It also helped crystallize the notion that video specialty retailers ought to consider ways to move more strongly into related music product.

Certainly, music retailers are thankful they have stayed in the video sellthrough business. Going into NARM's annual convention next week, it's clear that without DVD and VHS movies and music videos (accounting for as much as 20 percent of several major chains' revenues), the music retailing business would have had a pretty tough year, as shipments of CDs were down by some 6 percent for the first time in five years.

The O Brother soundtrack reached No.10 on Billboard's top seller charts (it's slipped to No.15) and, as of late last week, was Amazon's top selling CD. But it's not just the breakout of O Brother we can point to. The cover of Patti LaBelle's mid ‘70s "Lady Marmalade" for the soundtrack of Moulin Rouge won for Best Pop Collaboration with Christina Aguilera, Pink and friends, and was a highly popular single. One can also find the soundtracks for I am Sam, Queen of the Damned and A Walk to Remember on the current Billboard top 50.

What I find interesting is the level of music by serious talent being developed for and used creatively in film these days, and it's showing as these film soundtracks get more serious critical attention and popular consumer support. As the entertainment industry continues to morph into multimedia and entertainment conglomerates it stands to reason we will continue to see more serious efforts of film and music collaboration that allows for the resulting musical product to be able to succeed on its own in the music marketplace, even dominate it.

Given that, it seems reasonable that specialty video stores ought to be retailing related music properties as well. The tricky part has been how to cross-merchandise the DVD with the CD, since often the CD is pricier than the movie (hmm…perhaps this explains part of the music industry's problem?), and comes out much earlier (which might be a good thing because it helps build awareness for the video). Nevertheless, there is an obvious and legitimate market here that wants a higher quality version of the movie soundtrack and is willing to pay for it. Rentailers might consider using a free rental of the related movie with the purchase of the sound track as one approach.

The connection of movies and music is inextricable and I think the melding of the two art forms will only spin off more related music product. The question is, can we find models to make it work for specialty video stores?



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