After an impressive response from test markets conducted earlier this year, a consortium of record labels, including EMI Music, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group and 5.1 Entertainment Group/Silverline Records introduced a new music product this October called the DualDisc. The new format was approved by the DVD Forum earlier this year (www.dvdforum.org).
DualDisc is a double-sided disc composed of a regular music CD on one side and a DVD on the other. While the CD side will store a whole music album, the DVD side might provide the album in surround sound (Dolby Digital 5.1 or DVD-Audio) and also include a wide range of special features such as music videos, interviews, photo galleries, web links, concert footage and lyrics. SACD will not be included on the DVD side. The disc is slightly thicker than today’s discs, but most existing CD/DVD players should be able to play it. Of course, you will need a DVD player capable of DVD-Audio playback to take full advantage of some of these new discs.
The new format is intended to give artists a broader palette to express their creative vision through video, surround sound and web connectivity in a single disc. It will also provide greater value to consumers giving them unique content that brings them closer to the artist. DualDisc is supposed to address consumer complaints that CDs were not offering enough value for the money.
A mix of old and new albums began shipping in October in the new DualDisc format. Specific numbers expected to hit stores before Christmas were not available at time of press. Prices of the new discs were not available either.
DualDisc albums from Blondie, Blues Traveler, Queensryche, the London Symphony, and others are expected in the first release from Silverline Records. The second set is expected to include albums from Todd Rundgren, Bob Marley & The Wailers, Ministry, Dar Williams, The Fixx, The Pogues, Gary Numan, Eddie Money, and others.
The big question is whether this new format will actually get more consumers to buy music CDs at the current or higher prices. The extra DVD content is great for hardcore fans – but wouldn’t most of us rather pay less and get just the music? Time will tell.