About a week ago, I was talking to the former editor of Home Entertainment Magazine, Geoff Morrison. Geoff is one of the best young writers in the AV business who is a trained video calibrator, has retail experience from Circuit City back in the day and has worked as a writer for Home Entertainment, Home Theater Magazine and elsewhere. He had mentioned to me that he was at a local convention called "Blue-Con" which was organized for the advancement of Blu-ray as a format among other goals. Geoff went on to talk about one of the panelists who was talking about the idea of on-demand intellectual property for Blu-ray. In other words - he is suggesting that the studios are asking consumers which movies they want to see next based on commitments or pre-orders.
This idea is pure gold.
Making a Blu-ray isn't cheap but it's not $1,000,000 either. If you know you have 5,000 enthusiasts lined up to buy the movie at a reasonable price - you know as a studio that you likely will make your money back. With the right marketing, supplemental materials, packaging and added value goodies - you could have a home run on your hands. From a business standpoint - what you are trying to avoid is investing in a stiff. Ishtar likely doesn't need to be released on Blu-ray any time soon but Sam Raimi's Army of Darkness might quietly sell 100,000 copies to cult fans.
Why Isn't Music Sold On Blu-ray by the Major Labels?
The discussion quickly led to my long-standing question as to why the major record labels don't sell music on Blu-ray. Geoff can't figure it out either. DVD-Audio and SACD were downright stupid formats in retrospect. They were dueling formats that had little to no meaningful support in terms of titles offered. Consumers feared picking the loser of a VHS versus Beta battle. Consumers rejected the expensive components and the nine (count 'em NINE) cables needed to hook up a player. They rejected the need for a new receiver and/or AV preamp. With no catalog support to go with Dark Side of The Moon or Fragile of The Black Album - early adopters were left at the altar with their remotes in their hands wanting for more in HD audio - especially in 5.1 surround. Amazingly, Blu-ray solves all of these concerns and others. Blu-ray players are cheap - priced well under $200 today. Blu-ray has 30 percent market share. HDMI on Blu-ray copy-protects the material. Unlike SACD, Blu-ray has video on the disc. Blu-ray is many times larger a disc format than either SACD or DVD-Audio and can pack HD caliber 24 bit 7.1 channel audio for movies.
What Blu-ray could do for music would be insane if any studio could figure it out. Think about what's possible:
• A disc packed with 5.1 or 7.1 HD surround at 24 bit 96 kHz (maybe 192 kHz) resolution.
• HD video supplementals at 1080p resolution.
• Tricky HD video screen savers for home theater users that would bring a visual element into the musical experience (think iTunes).
• The chance to sell more screen savers and photos via BD-Live and other online retailers.
• Audiophiles could get HD resolution files that are copy-protected but are at seven times higher resolution than CD. There's room for 24-bit stereo and surround sound on a Blu-ray disc. 24-bit audio trashes CD resolution 16-bit audio. It also trashes analog and everything else. It's audiophile heaven.
• An additional disc (a CD perhaps) that could be added to the package complete with lower resolution tracks for iPods and computers would be easy and affordable to offer.
• Download codes for Apple or other services could be offered as part of the package.
• Special promotions for concert tours only for people who use the online interface of the Blu-ray player to access special offers, tickets, live concert sound and more.