The Latest Solution To File Sharing: More CD Packaging!

from the just-what-no-one-wanted dept

While Universal Pictures has decided to take on counterfeiters at their own game in Russia and China with things like cheap, no frills, versions of DVDs that come out very soon after a movie hits the theater, but before the full featured DVDs come out, it looks like Universal Music is trying a somewhat similar tactic (though, not completely the same). They’re revamping the traditional CD “jewel box” for pretty much the first time since the record labels got rid of the tall cardboard boxes that were used so CDs could fit in the bins designed for vinyl LPs. However, rather than a single revamp, they’re going to now offer three separate tiers of packaging, so that true collectors will feel like they need to buy the same content over and over and over again. Still, it is at least some innovation out of an industry loathe to innovate. In this case, they’ll have cheaper versions of the CD that come in just a basic cardboard sleeve. Then there will be the standard CD (with a sturdier jewel box) and at the top tier, a deluxe version that may include extra material, DVD content and more detailed liner notes. Of course, the overall prices still seem too high to really change consumer behavior, but at least they’re realizing that some more choices can be a good thing.

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Comments on “The Latest Solution To File Sharing: More CD Packaging!”

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Topher3105 (profile) says:

It does make sense, but does it?

First and foremost, no online retailer of music is doing it right. Not even iTunes.

I mean, they just distribute the song, with the cover artwork, and fill in a few ID3 fields.

What about lyrics, additional artwork, credits and props. And, who is the person playing that piano or violin? I mean, I don’t know why people are not suing companies like iTunes which pretty much strip the copyright and credit information off of every song ( I would have sued if I was a violin player or backup singer trying to make a name for myself by playing backup for some popular singer or band ).

Sure, Apple releases the digital booklet, but I mean, they don’t even do that well. The digital booklet isn’t viewable in the iTunes player, and the iPod doesn’t support it. It would be nice on the current generation of iPods to allowed the digital booklet to be viewed like a slide show, but the file format is simply not supported by the ubiquitous music player.

I have felt that the only way to compete with digital music is for CD vendors to make the packaging more “collectible” and make all the content you can’t get with your digital file more interesting.

Recently, this was accomplished with Tool’s 10,000 Days CD, whose enhanced packaging includes stereoscopic glasses embedded in the case and the included booklet has stereograms of band members and interesting artwork. The fact I bought it for $9.99 while the iTunes music store is selling it for $12.99 finally made me realize how stunningly overpriced online music is.

I both welcome and abhor this new trend, as I don’t feel I should have to pay more for fancier packaging. I am afraid with this new trend that that Tool CD would have been $21.99 because it was in a “collector’s” packaging. While the $9.99 version would be in a plain cardboard sleeve. Why not simply make the packaging more interesting, and give people a feeling they are not getting ripped of with $9.99 or $12.99 CD’s.

It is stunning to see how much the music industry just does not get its consumers. Largely, we have given them this level of power by happily buying billions in music sales in years gone by without much complain, but now, even when consumers are revolting and distributing music for free online, the music industry is still trying to find ways to make more money, by inflating the cost of something by putting it in a slightly fancier packaging.

Don’t tier CD prices, just be more inventive with your packaging and keep the prices at or even below online album sales!

Beekay says:

Re: It does make sense, but does it?

Topher3105 makes some excellent points. At the same time we need to remember that value added packaging cannot possibly make up for weak content, which is generally the case. The prime beef of the P2P community has been that paying for a full CD when there are only a couple of tracks that we want is counterproductive. The underlying issue of course is that corporate suits turn this issue on its head and think only of what is counterproductive from their perspective and use their shareholders as the stick to beat with. But without adequate value in paying for a full CD people join the P2P community. These corporate suits need to bear in mind that some of their own are riding the crest of the wave by marketing DVDs whose sales are kickass. This is so because a film gives a firm value (either you like it or you don’t) so a person buying a DVD knows or has a pretty good idea of what they are buying. In the case of a CD each track is an independent entity. It blows my mind that corporate suits are blind to the fact that the concept of a “mixed tape” is as old as the tape recorder. They came up with dual cassette recorders to cater to …..what!!!! I think they need to wake up and show some genuine respect for the customer. Merely packaging better will do nothing to change the present state of affairs. The reason for this is that the people who go and buy CDs passively likely buy about 10-12 CDs each year, if that. But then such customers do so because they don’t want to think about where they are plunking down their dollars. Those who are into music (and the majority of such people constitute the P2P community) have generally tended to buy more than 50-60 CDs each year. Quite logically then, such individuals feel they have been ripped off enough. I would be interested to find out if there has been a dip in the sales of classical CDs – because there a buyer pretty much knows what they are buying, it is the interpretation of the music that has changed. I wouldn’t be surprised if compared to other kinds of music there hasn’t been as much of a change in the sale of classical music CDs.

Comboman says:

Death to the jewel case!

I hate jewel cases. They’re bulky and environmentally unfriendly. Cardboard sleeves are an OK alternative. My ideal packaging would be a DVD-case-sized booklet with liner notes/artwork/lyrics with a pocket on the inside cover to store the CD. Save the deluxe packaging (and pricing) for SACD/DVD-Audio format.

Anonymous Coward says:

Although the difference may be 5¢ in packaging, the price you are used to paying for a CD with jewel case and liner notes/lyrics, will now get you a single CD with 1 color print in a cardboard sleeve with no lyrics. You will most likely have to pay $2 more than what you are currently paying just to get the same product. This only will anger consumers and fortify their ties to file sharing.

Jeff (profile) says:


Wow, can’t the record companies EVER get this right?!?

Won’t all the extra packaging cause the kids to flush even more stuff down the tubes that make up the Internet?!? It’s gonna be DAYS before I get my AO-Hell email now!!!! Where the he!! is Al Gore?!? We need him to re-invent the Internet NOW!!! And while we’re at it, we should get his wife Tipper to get the Washington Wives back together for a PMRC Reunion Tour and make sure Al’s New Internet is as safe as the record labels are nowadays!!!


C. Phil Burt says:

The Latest Solution To File Sharing: More CD Packa

These people who run the record business can’t be all that stupid as they are sure makiong a lot of money. I we voiced ourselves with buying power instead of mouth power I honestlt believe all of this would have been settled years ago……maybe 40-50, but NO what we all do is complain and still go out and plunk down more money on something that just isn’t worth it.

I am glad that I am older and my hearing is shot as I don’t need CD quality for everything that I listen too. I remember listening to music with the top dow crusing alomg doing about 60 you could barely hear it… quality would not have made a difference at all.

STOP buying and we will see a change.

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