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Pumping Up the Volume

2 Mar, 2006 By: Jessica Wolf

Music DVD suppliers are as diverse as the content they feed to the increasingly hungry market.

New music DVD titles released in 2005 jumped 17.8% from 2004, compared to the far more modest 4% to 5% gain in overall DVD releases, according to The DVD Release Report.

A little more than half of those music DVD releases came from the seven most prolific suppliers, while 45% (775 titles) came from other, smaller sources.

This diversity is good news for music lovers and artists alike, suppliers said. They're carefully watching as consumers continue to ramp up their home theater systems — with music DVD filling out consumer's video libraries.

“I think the consumer is pretty intrigued with music DVD and getting more intrigued,” said Sig Sigworth, VP of video for Rhino Entertainment. “They're hungry for ways to use their home theater systems, and music DVD is such a great way to showcase that.”

DVD is firmly entrenched as a “channel” of entertainment in the home, and music DVD plays right into that philosophy, said Steve Sterling, SVP of programming and production for Live Nation/Clear Channel Entertainment.

Concepts and Connections

The new Liberation Entertainment is kicking off its presence in the DVD market with two music titles, The Irish Tenors and another featuring Michael Bolton.

Liberation also will release future programs from the PBS series “Soundstage.”

Members of Mötley Cr?e were extremely involved in the production of their theatrical concert DVD Carnival of Sins from Live Nation.

“Music DVD is becoming very integral in terms of an artist's overall brand,” said Jay Boberg, chairman and CEO of Liberation Entertainment. “We want to be artists' advocates.”

Ozzy Osbourne was at his most lucid and entertaining in the interview footage included on last year's ,I>Ozzfest 10th Anniversary from Live Nation.

High-concept content like this is becoming increasingly important for a successful music DVD, Sterling said.

Live Nation is in a unique position to promote its music DVD product, as it is under the Clear Channel Entertainment company umbrella.

This week, the lineup for the 2006 Ozzfest will be announced and ticket buyers will get a coupon for a discount on the Ozzfest 10th Anniversary DVD. The same holds for Live Nation's upcoming Korn disc and tour.

During last year's touring season, Clear Channel ran 30-second spots at its venues promoting music DVD titles, and such cross promotions will be ramped up this year, Sterling said.

Live Nation also will have its first digital cinema release with its Korn DVD arriving this summer accompanied by one-night theatrical presentations across the country near street date.

Content for the Masses

Festival compilations like Ozzfest and Austin City Limits — the 2005 show to which Image Entertainment just acquired rights and will release on DVD in June — offer a great front-row pass for fans who can't make it to the live events, suppliers said.

Both Live Nation and Image are looking at offering different ways for fans to interact with content on DVD. A concert video that has interview footage between the songs might come with another disc or click-of-the remote option that lets fans choose to simply watch the song performances back to back.

But, according to Barry Gordon, SVP of acquisitions for Image, there's an even greater opportunity to look at music DVD programming in a narrative frame, like in the company's upcoming releases Hail! Hail! Rock N' Roll and Bastards of Young.

Bastards of Young, which dives into the bands, the fans and the culture of modern punk, arrives June 6.

“It's really a movie that is told by the bands and fans themselves,” Gordon said.

Such music DVDs open it up for discovery both inside and outside the core audience, Gordon said.

“We're really looking to push the envelope and acquire or produce more narrative-style music DVD features,” he said.

For Music Video Distributors, which was on board with music DVD from the very beginning, it's about finding and releasing content that's compatible with what's already out there for any given artist, said company president Ed Seaman.

“A lot of people are on a bandwagon that docs and feature films are the way to go; that's a really current trend,” he said. “What it comes down to is who's the act and what's been done before in the market.”

MVD has released two Devo concert DVDs, one from the 1980s and another more current show. But because there already was a current Devo concert disc in the market from another supplier, the 1980s concert is doing better — even though the video and audio quality is 20 years old, he said.

Spreading the Good Word

Suppliers are increasingly looking to the Internet and at viral marketing to promote music DVD releases. They're tossing around ideas like offering snippets of DVD content for free download on iTunes or other services.

Image will be heavily using the Internet for Bastards of Young — releasing trailers and downloads across the Web and hitting up myspace.com to smoke out the fans.

For one, the Web is a great place to find fans specific to this title. Also, the writing is on the wall, and it's time to get on board with the Internet as a delivery option, Gordon said.

“We are going to see less gatekeepers keeping the consumer away from this product, making decisions for people by only putting certain titles on store shelves,” he said. “[Consumers are ] going to find this online, and they are going to download it.”

Live Nation is planning to team up with retailers to offer clips and trailers of content on their specific Web sites, especially for high-profile projects like Ozzfest 10th Anniversary and Mötley Cr?e: Carnival of Sins.

Live Nation also at the end of this month will release clips from Carnival of Sins for free On Demand download, all with a tag to the DVD availability. The company also is offering a 20-minute documentary to local cable operators in cities where the band has tour dates.

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