HITS Daily Double
"It's about physical albums that are going to drive consumers back into your stores."
——John Trickett, 5.1 Entertainment Chairman/CEO


It's a CD and a DVD! It slices, Dices, Makes Julienne Fries!
SAN DIEGO: In yet another surprising show of NARM unity, the four major label groups rolled out the new DualDisc, a double sided CD and DVD combo, in front of a packed house Tuesday morning. Presenters included Sony BMG EVP Tom Donnarumma, WEA Prexy John Esposito, Universal E-labs' Paul Bishow and 5.1 Entertainment Chairman and CEO John Trickett.

Hailed as the new product (please don't call it a “new configuration”) that will reinvigorate the business, the new disc contains a full album on the CD side and a 5.1 surround-sound version of the same album, plus film clips, interviews and myriad other bells and whistles on the DVD side. "It's about physical albums that are going to drive consumers back into your stores," said Trickett. He was most certainly not alone in this assessment, as the presenters rolled video that included testimonials from the likes of Doug Morris, Don Ienner, and every other hitter in the business. "Now One Disc Has It All" is the slogan, and America is about to be bombarded with it.

DualDisc is touted as compatible with every conceivable player, and to demonstrate its flexibility, the presenters had on hand a petting zoo of appliances on which to try the new discs out, including CD players, DVD players, game consoles and clock radios.

Every major music group promises that they will release some titles in the DualDisc format in the fourth quarter, with a broader rollout coming next year. Licensing challenges have recently confronted the product, including one from German-based DVD International, Inc., which says the record companies are “hijacking” its “DVD Plus” technology and reneging on a written agreement to call the new product DVD Plus. Meanwhile, CD patent holder Philips Electronics has said DualDiscs are not qualified to carry the official Compact Disc logo because they don’t meet established specs for CDs. Licensing headaches to do with clearing both music and video content for a single release have also cropped up in recent week. It remains to be seen if these issues can be dealt with in time for planned Q4 releases to make it to stores.

Most everyone on hand was bullish on the new concept, but some tempered their enthusiasm by pointing out a few minor drawbacks. The largest being that the DVD side, after giving up most of its space for the 5.1 surround audio, only has some 20 minutes of video time left. There are new technologies on the horizon that might solve that problem, but they will become available after the launch of the current version. Because of that, others felt that it might have been prudent to not rush the release and wait until more products with the superior technology are already in hand. Also, only two companies currently have the ability to manufacture the discs: Cinram and Sony, so ramping-up inventory will take place rather slowly in the near term.

Titles said to be on deck for release in the coming months include albums from WMG's Trapt, and UMG's Snow Patrol and Keane. Others in the works include albums from David Bowie, Five For Fighting, Good Charlotte, Miles Davis, Incubus, Train, Yo Yo Ma and Usher, plus another 50 catalog titles from 5.1 Entertainment.

List prices are very much up in the air, with some surmising that DualDisc might come out at a normal $18.98 list, but others saying it's still too early to tell. The FTC has also set severe restrictions on the release of pricing information. "I won't be able to tell anyone what my pricing will be," said one executive, "Until I send out my first solicitation sheet to my customers."