Music DVD Ready to Turn Up Volume31 Mar, 2005 By: Jessica Wolf
(L-R): John Marmaduke, Hastings; Kevin Cassidy, Tower Records and Video; and Gary Arnold, Best Buy
Music DVD is a small market that needs big ideas to grow, panelists and presenters agreed at last week's Music DVD Conference hosted by Home Media Retailing magazine in partnership with The Hollywood Reporter, DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group and The Video Software Dealers Association.
Music DVD sales make up only five percent of the music market, according to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and 4 percent of the DVD market, according to Home Media Research. However, those numbers continue to grow.
“I think the main reason to be bullish about music DVD is that it really fits into a number of trends in the home, the main one being the connection of the stereo and the TV,” said Tom Adams, president of Adams Media Research. “About 25 percent of homes have sound systems hooked up to their TVs”
Now, labels, video suppliers and retailers have to find ways to get the right music DVD product in front of the consumer, panelists at the conference agreed.
The consumers are out there
What's most important to the music DVD buyer, said Mike Davis from Universal Music Video and Distribution, according to extensive research from that label, is the relevance of the artist involved in the DVD.
Labels have to remain spontaneous and opportunistic to capitalize on an artists' current cultural relevance for music DVD, a panel of label executives concurred.
After relevance, Davis said, is the kind of content on the music DVD, (i.e. live concert footage vs. videos) and third was price.
Retailers at the conference put the call out to the labels and music DVD suppliers for more and higher level marketing of music DVD and the emerging DualDisc, offering suggestions like specific promotional pushes themed to Tuesday street dates and the holiday shopping season.
In the meantime, music DVD is already getting plenty of support at retail.
Gary Arnold, SVP of Best Buy, said the chain carries about 650 music DVD SKUs per store. Music DVD sales are in the single-digit range as a percent of revenue of all music product at the chain.
Hastings Entertainment upped its commitment to music DVD 18 months ago, said the chain's president, John Marmaduke, doubling the inventory and moving it to the front of the stores.
“Since then, our business has doubled, and it remains in the double digits,” he said.
Tower Records and Video has always been into music DVD, said Kevin Cassidy, EVP of sales and operations for Tower Records and Video. Music DVD is cross-merchandised with CD extensively, and Tower makes a point of carrying virtually every title released, he said.
“The average store in our chain carries around 4,000 music DVD titles,” he said. Overall, Tower clocked in sales of 1.2 million units of music DVD in calendar year 2004, Cassidy said.
The DualDisc debate
Retailers feel suppliers need to make a much more concerted marketing and branding effort with the industry's newest product, DualDisc.
“The DualDisc is only going to be as successful as the monies that are spent on promoting it,” Cassidy said. “At this point, there is no branding of the product.”
More than a million units of DualDisc have sold through to customers in five months, said Bob Michaels, president of 5.1 Productions and chairman of the DVD-Audio council. Michaels was on hand at the conference to present consumer research information on DualDisc, discuss some of the technical aspects and dispel rumors surrounding the elements included in the RIAA forthcoming official specs for the product.
One rumor that's floated through the industry is that there is an RIAA-imposed 30-minute limit of video content for DualDisc, which would keep it from being considered a rental product. That's not the case, Michaels said.
On the content side, labels heads said they intend to push the new product.
“WEA has already done very well with DualDisc,” said Dutch Cramblitt, VP of sales for WEA Corp. “It is a great piece, and the consumer, I think, is seeing the value. We've got to do a better job with DualDisc right now initiating it and getting it into a more mass consumer awareness.”
One danger for DualDisc, panelists said, is if either side of the hybrid CD/DVD is billed or perceived as “bonus” or “free” content.
“DualDisc should be billed as ‘the ultimate album' experience,” said Paul DeGooyer, VP of Warner Strategic Marketing.
More big ideas
Eagle Rock Entertainment is going a different way, said Mike Carden, EVP and president of North American operations.
His company is working with the creator of DVD Plus, the first DVD/CD hybrid, developed in Germany, on a new Twisted Sister release.
Barry Gordon, SVP of Image Entertainment is excited about the possibilities of putting music DVD content into the palms of eager consumers' hands. Image is looking into releasing content on Universal Media Disc for Sony's new PlayStation Portable, he said.
On the marketing side, Rita M. Boyadjian, co-president of Alternative Marketing Solutions said music DVD marketers could take better advantage of radio advertising.
She suggested taking a page from theatrical marketing campaigns designed for radio. Often these ads will tag specific retailers into the marketing message on a rotating basis, she said.
Promos that start on a small scale can turn big as well, said Lisa Nishimura, general manager of Palm Pictures. She noted viral Internet campaigns Palm has used, like creating themed AOL icons that get people talking and drive them to Web sites where they can learn about and even buy product.
Nishimura and heads of indie suppliers like Zach Fishel, VP of marketing for Music Video Distributors and Dan Gurlitz, VP of Koch Entertainment also noted the value of getting funky and eclectic music video product into tastemaker accounts like Hot Topic or Urban Outfitters. Stores like this offer not only a sales opportunity for the product, but also create a valuable consumer impression.