Itunes And Music Companies Out To Reinvent Albums

FT.com – From the “where have we heard THIS before” file comes a story off the Financial Times about iTunes & 4 of the largest record labels trying revitalize music sales by bringing back the golden age of albums.  Key word there, GOLDEN age (cha ching).   And I apologize in advance but to read the entire linked story you’ll have to register with that site (but it’s free at least).

Anyhow, it seems that with declining physical album sales yadda yadda this little consortium is out to change buying habits of the online community by including artwork, liner notes – all the stuff that used to come with physical albums – as a package deal with the electronic download of the entire album (I’m assuming).  Trying to get away from the single song download, it would seem.

Now, this sounds like a good idea on the surface.  Heck, I can remember spending many an hour sitting in a friend’s room pouring over the lyrics to Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’, discussing each song as it came up, staring at the artwork, and then falling silent when ‘Comfortably Numb’ came on, in absolute awe of David Gilmour’s artistry on the guitar.

But see, here is the problem with this new packaging idea as I see it.  How can you have such a communal experience with a digital download?  As Rob Zombie once said “You can’t autograph a download”.  Now for record completists, this new angle might work – if the price is right.  Don’t issue a digital album and then expect $18 for it.  Ain’t gonna happen.  But for the collectors, you might have a shot with this format.

Regardless it will be interesting to see what they come up with, although I am skeptical.  I think the package deal days are over sadly enough, but would love to be proven wrong.  Time will tell, I guess.  I still have plenty of my old vinyl. . . and yes, including The Wall.

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3 Responses to “Itunes And Music Companies Out To Reinvent Albums”

  1. COD says:

    Actually, many artists are having success with this formula. Give away the MP3s, and sell a limited edition autographed CD for $19.99, or for for $30 you get the CD and a T-Shirt, or for $100 you get all that plus 4 tickets to a concert. For $1000 you get all that plus backstage passes and dinner with the band. For $25,000 they play your birthday party, etc. My friend Mike at Techdirt has coined this CwF+RtB=$$$$.

    Connect with Fans + give them a Reason to Buy = money. Notice the lack of record companies in that equation.

  2. RevMortis says:

    Actually, I have to argue with you a bit. Many artists are having success with PHYSICAL packages that include added value items such as autographs, concert tickets, limited edition swag. But as I mention above, this will be a much more difficult model to emulate with digital alone (which is what the labels are attempting).

    To me, in order for this to be successful there will need to be added value items BEYOND just liner notes and cover artwork – all of which can be found freely already. And I think that will entail crossing back over into the physical arena in order to make that happen.

    That’s all I’m sayin’.

  3. COD says:

    We agree here – the can’t make money selling the digital stuff. You have to find the scare goods associated with the digital goods and sell the scare stuff.

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