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If Someone Is Stealing from You, Give Them More

The music industry may have hit upon the ultimate solution to piracy By Guy Wright

A few years ago, during all the RIAA assaults on Napster and threats of lawsuits against people who downloaded music, I was having a discussion about piracy with a musician/writer friend of mine, Andy Grossberg. He said to me, “Rather than trying to sue everyone or get stricter laws passed against piracy, what the music industry aught to do is give people better reasons to buy discs. They aught to learn a lesson from the way the film industry releases special edition DVDs. Even if you already own a movie on DVD, when they release a special edition with director commentaries, deleted scenes, and tons of extras, you still go out and buy another copy of the movie. If the music industry did the same thing then people who liked a particular artist would definitely buy a DVD rather than download a few cuts off the Internet.”

Apparently someone must have had a microphone hidden somewhere in that basement and took notes because just this week Silverline Records, a division of the 5.1 Entertainment Group, announced that beginning in November they will be releasing 50 DualDiscs featuring artists like Blondie, Taj Mahal, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the London Symphony, and many others.

These DualDiscs are two sided discs that have a regular CD on one side (compatible with any CD player, WalkMan, or car CD player) but on the other side is a DVD with the full album in DVD-Audio 5.1 surround sound, plus a wide range of special features such as music videos, interviews, photo galleries, web links, concert footage and lyrics.

What a brilliant idea!

Now granted, the list of titles doesn’t include a lot of current top-of-the-charts artists right now but if this idea catches on I bet you’ll see more and more new releases coming out in this format. You’ll probably also see a lot of record labels digging through their archives in search of material that they can re-release as DualDiscs.

This also means that record labels are going to have to start aggressively archiving much more than audio masters - they are going to have to start keeping track of publicity photos, interviews, discarded tracks, and video assets. They’ll also be knocking on the doors of past artists asking them to return to the studios to record commentaries.

I envision a day when a recording studio is not only equipped with the latest and greatest DAWs, mics, preamps, consoles, and other mixing gear but it also has video cameras, lights, VCRs (or tapeless decks) and full film/video crews to capture those recording sessions for inclusion on the DualDisc. Studios that can offer video documentation services to go along with the recording services will be in high demand.

It’s going to be an interesting time since audio engineers aren’t necessarily video-savvy and, by the same token, video engineers have never had to worry too much about the audio side of things. The studio that can bring these elements together and combine top-quality audio recording with top-quality video production is going to be golden.

Now I don’t think that DualDiscs are going to eliminate piracy altogether -- people will still rip the CD side to have copies of the music for their car (nobody wants to risk melting a valuable disc) and casual listeners will still download a track or two illegally. And yes, there are some people who will pirate the DVD side of the disc with DVD ripping software, but the costs and technology involved with making illegal copies of an entire DualDisc - including both sides - are going to make it very difficult for the casual copier. Plus, people are going to be less inclined to complain about how difficult it is to copy a DualDisc. People may grumble a bit about a special edition DVD movie release but only if they are a big fan of the movie to begin with and have to shell out another $20, but they don’t complain about how difficult it is to make bootleg copies.

Personally I think DualDiscs are a great idea. The only problem is that when they get around to releasing my favorites I’m going to have to go out and buy everything all over again -- just like I did when they switched from LPs to CDs. Sigh.

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Guy Wright has been kicking around computers and video for more years than he cares to admit and written too many articles to count. He has been a director, editor, producer, video operator, and announcer for a score of radio and TV stations. His credits include hundreds of insipid local-origination programs and commercials, dozens of cheesy radio spots, and even a book or two. Mainly he writes and edits articles for Digital Media Online.
Related Keywords:Silverline Records, DualDiscs, RIAA, DVD-Audio, 5.1, surround sound

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