CD, Vinyl And… MMC?

from the well,-it's-a-start dept

Minidiscs never really caught on outside of certain niches, but that didn’t stop some record labels from releasing albums specifically on minidisc — even though most users of minidiscs did so to either record things or create their own mixes. The recording industry can’t seem to get over the mindset of “we’re selling music on some tangible item.” They sold vinyl records, 8-tracks, cassettes, CDs and random other attempts at formats. This is part of the reason they’ve had so much trouble with the internet. There’s no “thing” to sell. There’s just the music, and that’s easily copied. So, just as the mobile industry is trying to come up with various ideas on how to let people download music to their mobile phones, EMI and pop musician Robbie Williams have decided to release his “greatest hits” album on MMC. MMC is a type of memory card that can be used on some high end mobile phones and PDAs. It’s basically the industry going back a step to “what plastic thing can we sell with music on it,” rather than any serious attempt to look for ways to sell music in a digital or wireless world. In other words, this is a return to the minidisc idea. The industry sees that people have some kind of “player” and focus on selling a piece of plastic with music on it for that player, rather than actually understanding how people are using that device. While it may be useful to some, how many people are really going to choose to buy an album on a memory card when they could just as soon buy the CD, giving them the option of doing whatever they want with it, including transferring the songs to their own memory card?

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Comments on “CD, Vinyl And… MMC?”

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Secret Squirrel says:

Justification for outdated model....

Well, in this case there is some sort of innovation, namely the addition of ringtones and exclusives on the MMC version. The idea I guess being that it’s a complete suite of features for the Robbie Williams fan, not just the music. So it is justified somewhat, although I do agree that it would be more efficient to sell the product directly, DRM free to the consumer over the net.

jeremiah (user link) says:

the issue is...

The issue as I see it (and that i’m coming to grips with as an independent musician) is that music is basically worthless.

Let me qualify that: music as a standalone service is worthless. It has to be bundled with something – a value-add if you will – tangible to be of any “value.”

Music is valuable in a film or TV program, but only because it exists as part of the complete experience. It has value as a promotional element of a public persona (Britney Spears, Clay Aiken, etc), but only because it urges people to spend their money on more tangible expressions of affinity (t-shirts, posters, stickers, etc.)

To the companies bringing these plastic gadgets to market, the music is secondary: they don’t care who’s music is on the widget, just how many widgets they sell. It’s analagous to printer manufacturers to whom their main product (printers) is actually a loss-leader to the more profitable market of print cartridge refills.

To these companies, the concept of digital portability is basically an economic castration: imagine if any print cartridge could suddenly be used in any inkjet printer. Because their money’s in selling the platform, they’ll be damned if they’ll allow formats that migrate, because they’ll sell fewer plastic “things” that make up the core of their business.

I really, really wish it wasn’t this way, and I’m quite saddened that this seems to be the reality in which myself and artists like me have been challenged to flourish in.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: the issue is...

The reality has always been that artists don’t see any money from album sales. If you can accept that, and use albums and free or nearly free downloads to drum up interest, you’ll make your money on concerts and merchandise. That business model is sound.

The problem I see is for authors, who could conceivably be in the same situation once eBooks catch on, without the possibility of making money somewhere else.

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