It's so cute
when the big record labels pretend like they're embracing the digital era sometimes. Check out the latest effort from Universal Music
, which the company has dubbed "Playlist Your Way," and which it purports is a new sort of physical/digital hybrid for the internet era. It does have a few good elements -- but it wraps it up with plenty of bad elements, most specifically the name
. This isn't a Burger King "Have it your way" type of thing. You don't get to select the tracks you want in order to create your own CD or anything. No, you're buying a ready-made greatest hits CD (from artists who almost all already have out existing greatest hits CDs), plus a few digital extras.
Jess Hemerly over at the Institute For The Future breaks down both the good and the bad
of this idea, noting that doing "podcast liner notes" definitely makes sense. These podcasts do sound interesting:
The biographical download brings alive the artist's history, including archival interviews and commentary from journalists, friends and family members. Each audio documentary runs approximately 15 minutes.
Yes, that absolutely could be quite cool, but it comes tied to forcing you to buy another greatest hits CD. If anything, all this really seems like is Universal Music trying to convince you to buy the same music you already own
by adding a few random extras.
And, then, of course, there's the totally misleading name. It's as if Universal Music thinks its customers are stupid. If it advertises something as a customizable playlist, people are going to probably expect a customizable playlist -- but that's not what you get. You get a set playlist on a greatest hits CD, and then the option to download some extra stuff: "Consumers may choose six additional tracks and/or a full-length original studio album." Of course, if customers really
want a playlist "their way," they're going to do it the way so many people do it these days: they're just going to download the tracks they want, and not feel suckered into buying the packaging, even if it's "designed to be digital friendly, with more color and new impactful designs." As Hemerly points out: "How does "impactful" design make a physical CD more "digital friendly?" What does this sentence even mean?"
The idea of including a podcast about the artist is a good one. It's just too bad Universal Music is basically only using it to get you to buy yet another greatest hits album, and then making a bunch of boastful claims that either don't make sense or simply aren't accurate. At what point do the big record labels realize that they should offer people real options to get what they want, rather than trying to hype them into buying a bunch of crap they don't care about to get at the tiny nugget of stuff they do want?