The music business is experiencing a recession where record sales are reaching all-time lows. All record companies have in the last few years experienced a considerable decrease in sales. Finding the cause or causes of this has naturally become a major concern for all of them. Some blame the recession in the West in general, but that can hardly explain why one industry is losing out so much more than others. Music today is less from the heart than it used to be only ten years ago. It is mostly a purely commercial product to be used up and thrown away.
A lot of modern music has a short but intense life span. People are not prepared to pay as much for a ‘disposable’ product as they are for a ‘reusable’. The hit song of the week is fed to us all through radio and TV so intensely that we need not buy the record. And when it is no longer broadcasted no one remembers it. Attempts to change this and promote more quality, depth and originality in music have not been very successful. The whole entertainment business is ruled by trends and, quality seems to have gone out of style To simply lower the price of a CD is a commonly suggested solution, aturally advocated by the buyers. But no business favors such a remedy. Not only since it reduces their income but also because it sends out the wrong signals to people. It gives the impression that the product is worth less and that the customers have been charged too much before. And if the price can drop by ten per cent this year people might expect it to drop another ten per cent next year. A better settlement could be enhancing the product and giving people more for their money. Thanks to modern technology there can be so much more included on a CD than just music.
A computer with a CD-ROM drive, which is becoming quite common, allows us to read several different kinds of information off a CD. A short interview with the artist or ‘behind the scenes’ features can be included as so called ‘Quicktime movies’. Lyric sheets, discographies, extensive biographies and even sheet music can also be added easily. Text files have such small memory requirements compared to sound that the Bible can be stored in less space than a normal length song! There have already been several CDs released which include a lot of this, maybe it is time to make it a tandard feature. Since the Internet is also becoming more available to the public several artists have got their own homepage with news and up to date information. These homepages could be elaborated considerably and come to include games and interactive programs. Such programs may let you make your own mix of your favorite song and you could also download sound samples, or MIDI files which will play on a keyboard plugged into your computer. The most interesting parts of these homepages could be made available to ‘fans only’.
To access it you would need an application program or hard disk authorization available only on the CD. If the customers start visiting the home page more frequently the record companies also have an excellent opportunity to market miscellaneous merchandise and even other artists. That would be extremely desirable in times of a decreasing market. If people feel they are paying too much for a CD and the price cannot be lowered there is only one solution: the product must be enhanced! In order for record companies to survive into the next century it is time for them to evolve.