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Small High-Res Labels Redefine The Album Concept  Print E-mail
Home Theater News Music - General News
Written by Jerry Del Colliano   
Thursday, 16 June 2005

Ask any record company suit about why record sales are down from 30 billion dollars per year to 18 billion and they will instantly start in on the effects of Napster, peer-to-peer sites and piracy. And they are wrong. The modern fall of the record business as we know it is based on the rise in popularity of DVDs and video gaming, paired with the poor entertainment value associated with a mainstream compact disc.

For $22, a media-buying customer can get a Hollywood blockbuster for a home theater system, PC or even the back seat of the family Escalade. For about $30, you can get a video game, which, like a DVD-Video movie, is an audio video experience that can provide you with countless hours of entertainment. Today, for $16.99 in most stores around the country, you get a good 40 to 70 minutes of music, of which only a few tracks can be considered hits. It’s easy for consumers to see how the value of a CD today no longer competes in the marketplace with video games and DVD movies.

Some specialty record labels have a new outlook on what an album is. An album means a collection, and historically, a record album means a collection of songs. Record labels like AIX Records are producing albums that are far more comprehensive and, in some cases, more expensive than a traditional CD. For the extra money, a music enthusiast gets a high-resolution stereo mix, often 24 bit – 96 kHz in resolution, a high-resolution surround sound mix, an acoustic set of the music on the album, an electric set and video footage of the band playing live or in the studio. The packaging is as nice as a Criterion Edition DVD movie, often with special edition numbering or hand signings by the artist. These new school albums can cost north of $40 and have no chance at going gold or platinum, but they are a profitable, creative, entrepreneurial solution from a small label looking to make a hand-crafted product for those who want to hear stunning surround sound music on their high-performance music and home theater playback systems.

DTS Entertainment is well respected as one of the best producers of quality musical content, especially for surround sound. They have been offering added values on their DVD-Audio discs that include music videos, along with surround sound mixes, high-resolution 24-96 stereo mixes and more. One DTS disc even has some guitar lesson videos for the aspiring shred-master.

The new DualDisc format (CD on one side, DVD on the other) offers the major labels the ability to deliver their albums in new and creative ways right now to an audience of nearly 50,000,000 homes with surround sound systems. In the next few years, the automotive industry will start to make 5.1 surround sound a standard feature for car entertainment systems, thus dramatically increasing the places where people can play back music in surround, even with video content. Around the time surround sound systems hit standard car audio systems en masse, a new HDTV-capable disc format will be getting ready for market. The major labels need to start preparing today like small players like AIX Records, who record their in-studio footage on HDTV cameras for future use on discs. The day is coming in the next year or two when an album is going to mean much more than 12 low-resolution songs on a CD. This means the majors need to start preparing their new titles, as well as their catalogues, for the changes at hand for sale today on DualDisc and then all over again on whatever HDTV-capable disc makes it to market.







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