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Music DVD Has Both Problems, Potential

24 Jun, 2003 By: Jessica Wolf

It's going to take a star the likes of Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera or Justin Timberlake to get behind -- to get publicly excited about -- music DVD and high-resolution audio for sales in the category to really take off, said David DelGrosso, VP of marketing for DTS Entertainment. “All we need for music to become more important is to knock a few dominoes down, for a few artists to come out with some real energy,” he said.

DelGrosso and other executives from the music video industry -- including Scott Epstein, account manager for InterActual; Garson Foos of Shout! Factory; Robin Hurley of Rhino Entertainment; and John Trickett from 5.1 Entertainment -- talked about the singular challenges this category is still facing, even in an era of huge DVD growth, at last week's DVD in 50 conference in Hollywood.

Music DVD panelists addressed:

* DVD-Audio's packaging issues;
* the need for consumer and artist education on sound technologies like high-resolution formats DVD-Audio and Super Audio CD (SACD);
* sending releases to market with enough value-added content to stimulate purchases rather than downloading;
* and retail merchandising of music DVD product.

“Where the retailers rack [music DVD titles] is crucial,” Rhino's Hurley said. “Music consumers are used to going to the CD section. That's something where the retailer really needs to come on board, and we'll see more of that in the near future, I think.”

At an earlier panel, Best Buy SVP Gary Arnold made the same point, noting that retailers should look at merchandising music product by artist rather than format.

“There are consumers out there who will buy an Eagles CD because they are looking in the Eagles racks of the CD section, but they're not necessarily going to think, ‘Hey, I wonder if there's an Eagles concert video, too' and head over to the DVD section,” Arnold said.

Hollywood studios have done a great job of equating DVD with movies in the consumer's mind, panelists said, and now it's time for music labels to take that step and offer added value to music DVD and DVD-Audio releases.

“You've got to give that value for money so you're not asking someone to shell out $17 for 15 tracks,” Hurley said.

5.1's Trickett agreed: “People are looking for three things when it comes to music on DVD,” he said. “First, they want 5.1 surround sound, they want bonus features, and they want higher-quality visuals -- that's a distant third.”

Foos, who formerly worked for Rhino Records, said there's definitely a disconnect when it comes to how music marketers approach video product, but that's in for some changes as DVD continues its growth pattern.

One roadblock to DVD-Audio adoption is that some recording artists don't understand the technology, Trickett said. But as more artists leap on the DVD-Audio bandwagon, realizing it is a copy-protected technology, and as the music industry lets consumers know just how superior the sound quality is and that the discs will play on any DVD player, it could become the primary release format of choice, Epstein said.

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