Movie Studios Are Thinking Of Asking Consumers What Blu-ray To Put Out Next

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Dark_Side_of_the_moon_album_art.gifThe argument that each and every corporate suit still in the music business today gives back to me includes:

They say nobody can hear the difference and that downloads are good enough. That's total bullshit and anyone who cares about music knows it. An 85-year-old woman with a hearing aid can hear that a 24-bit master tape quality album sounds better than a CD. Hell, I will pay for the blind study if the majors agree to do the project when this myth is debunked.
The labels say nobody wants to buy their music collection over again. This is another barge overflowing with festering bullshit as 1,100,000 people bought Dark Side of the Moon on hybrid SACD even when the format was a failure. People are buying their movie collections over again on Blu-ray and unlike all but the most classic, cult-favorite movies - people can listen to music over and over again.
Consumers will steal the music. This objection is paranoid bullshit as the files on Blu-ray are copy-protected to the satisfaction of movie studios. That should be good enough for struggling record labels. HD music files on Blu-ray would be huge and nearly impossible to put on peer-to-peer systems because of bandwidth issues. Moreover, the CD version of everything ever recorded is sitting out there waiting to be stolen - why not add enough value to music to make it worth buying again?
The artists won't approve the mix. During the DVD-Audio and SACD era, getting artist approval was a legitimate problem, but thanks to Napster, a recent economic recession and the success of Apple's iTunes - artists today will look at things differently going forward. Labels should offer specifically high royalties on back catalog Blu-ray sales and make artists, estates and their management an offer they can't refuse. Selling a $14.95 Blu-ray is more profitable for everyone involved than selling a crappy resolution download that you could steal if you wanted to anyway.

neil-young-bluray_greatest_hits.gifWith the entire SACD and DVD-Audio catalog (likely 3,000 plus titles) that could start a back catalog and tens of thousands of top-level records sitting out there waiting to be resold, the majors could and should come off their high horse and stop asking $250,000 to $1,000,000 upfront for boutique record labels to sell their music if they don't want to be in the audiophile business. That's not a model that works. Dark Side, Jazz at the Pawn Shop, Brothers In Arms, Kind of Blue and every back catalog record in between are long paid for or written off already. Majors should pick partners that can run with selling their back catalog on HD disc formats as a new business model because the 25-year-old Compact Disc is not secure and offers little value in an HD driven market.

If people can't figure out what titles to master first? Ask the consumers like the expert at Blue-Con was suggesting. They will tell you that they are ready to buy their music over again on one last silver disc and Blu-ray is it. One player. One disc. HD, surround sound, audiophile sound and more for a fair price equals a recipe for success, because audiophiles themselves are not a viable market to sell music too - but music lovers are. The mainstream consumer knows what a Blu-ray is and likely has a player to play it on. In fact, if the majors had any real balls they would cease making CDs to sell and only sell Blu-ray versions of their music with a CD enclosed as part of a $9.99 to $14.99 Blu-ray record. Trying to price an album at $17.99 like some of the majors do at retail won't work. Consumers demand more value, HD content, more supplementals and more goodies for less money. Give it to them and don't be surprised to see a multi-billion dollar business being born again. Hell, the customers will even give you the roadmap of how and what to sell to them. The question is: are the majors smart enough to try something like this? I'd bet strongly against it, which is exactly why domestic music sales are 2/3rds of what they were in the early 1990's when the music business was selling back catalog music on CD for 85 percent of their total disc sales.

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