August 4, 2006

Industry Watchdog: WMG Preps DVD Album Format

Frankly we expected this from market leader UMG, but with former corporate cousin Warner Home Video's financial interest in the DVD format, we guess it isn't too surprising: Warner Music Group wants you to buy your whole music collection over again in a new format, according to the Wall Street Journal. Well, that's not quite fair, since most DVD players will play CDs. The converse, however, is not always true. There is an alleged consumer value-add to what WMG is calling the DVD album format, something that companies like DataPlay were trying to position in the market six years ago: additional, perhaps unlockable, content packaged with the music. Anyway, consumers could see the "new format" as soon as October. Warner was also a partner in the yawner DualDisc format with Sony, but WSJ says that DualDisc's combined CD and DVD has less storage capacity than a normal CD and DVD respectively; the new Warner DVD music format will hold four times as much data as the DVD side of a DualDisc.

The Warner DVD album is slated to include extras such as ringtones, as well as pre-ripped tracks users can move off the DVD and onto their computers. Theses pre-ripped tracks may provide a consumer downside: it sounds as if the tracks may be encoded with Apple's DRM (perhaps as some sort of content sub-licensing deal?), meaning the tracks may not be playable on any devices besides the IPod. Also, Apple seems committed, whether by choice or contractual obligation, to 128K-encoded sound files, a bit-rate that delivers inferior sound quality in our opinion. WSJ was a bit fuzzy on that. Glenn Coolfer here sees an opportunity for WMG and any other labels who get in the act to segment the market by entering the DVDs at a higher price point. We don't disagree, although we don't expect to buy any of these DVD albums personally until we actually move to a pad where we can set up and use our hi-fi system regularly. Right now at :: clicky clicky :: HQ music we like goes right onto the IPod.

No comments: