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EMI Exec Says 'The Music CD is Dead' 528

Anonycat writes "Alain Levy, the chairman of EMI Music, made a speech at the London Business School declaring 'the end of the music CD as it is.' He went on to say that most CDs are simply used for ripping onto digital audio players. Levy adds that by the beginning of 2007, all EMI CDs will come with additional material to make them more attractive to the consumer. Revenue from CDs still outranks revenue from downloads by better than 6 to 1. Would it take 'additional material' to get you to keep buying CDs? What material would you like to see?"
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EMI Exec Says 'The Music CD is Dead'

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  • by woodsrunner ( 746751 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @02:41PM (#16612792) Journal
    Today I bought my first CD in over a year and it had big FBI copyright warnings all over it and a mail in questionaire with many survey questions that could be seen as incriminating and a good lead for the RIAA to follow up with a lawsuit.

    If this is what they see as value added, I think they got the eqation backwards... it's supposed to be value added to the consumer's experience, not the record company's legal squad.
  • Hmmm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Phanatic1a ( 413374 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @02:41PM (#16612802)
    Lyrics and sheet music. Or tab. And a flash drive with properly-tagged high-bitrate mp3s on it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 27, 2006 @02:44PM (#16612886)
    As long as the CD is almost the only high quality(bear with me audiophiles, and compare to 128 kilobit mp3), cross platform, simple, versatile, inexpensive, and DRM-free format in existence, it will be a good choice.

    Sure, the retail package of bits model deserves to be killed by the internet; but, with the exception of a few independent outfits who have a clue, online music distribution sucks so incredibly hard that it is a step down from a format 20 odd years old. Pathetic.

    Give me an online distribution method that doesn't suck, and then we'll talk about the death of the CD.
  • Goodbye, EMI. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 27, 2006 @02:51PM (#16613062)
    > These ivory tower execs should have realized almost 7 years ago with the advent of Napster that the CD was dying. Frankly, I don't think the iTunes Music Store should have ever happened, they should have realized the market then and adapted, now they'll have to play catch up to those innovating the non-physical media market.

    Only 7 years? Heck, almost 30 years. The music business doesn't require an economy based on artificial scarcity, but the record business certainly does.

    With an unlimited supply,
    That was the only reason
    We all had to say goodbye.
    Unlimited supply?
    - The Sex Pistols, EMI, 1977

    Goodbye, EMI. Hello, artist-owned websites, P2P, wireless ad-hoc connectivity, live performances.

    The Sex Pistols were only 30 years ahead of their time.

  • by From A Far Away Land ( 930780 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @02:51PM (#16613076) Homepage Journal
    Since Weird Al put videos on his music CDs, and I discovered mix mode discs in my CD burning software, I've thought that most audio CDs should come with data tracks. That's before DRM was common on music CDs though, and I've nearly changed my mind, thanks to malicious companies like Sony Music who release rootkits to damage your computer.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 27, 2006 @02:52PM (#16613086)
    The fact that a CD is only marginally cheaper than a DVD of a film that cost $50 millions to make is a nutty. $5 would be a suitable price.
  • by surfsalot ( 15319 ) <ramanujon@gmail . c om> on Friday October 27, 2006 @02:56PM (#16613202) Homepage
    When purchasing a CD I want to know how its benefiting the artist. I want to be able to read the insert and the "official" lyrics. It would also be nice to have some way to download some other "recommended artists", though this should be based on the kind of music I already own, and the kind of music I've purchased, not just whatever the record company is pushing. I'd like to see the record companies stop being sleazy and start being "good".
  • Re:Novel idea (Score:3, Interesting)

    by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @03:01PM (#16613312)
    The prices for music CDs have gone UP since they were first available!
    I remember how happy I was to have an option better than vinyl or tape, but that was a long time ago.
    Price them at say five bucks and CDs will fall into the "impulse purchase" zone.
  • by darkrowan ( 976992 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @03:04PM (#16613382) Homepage
    If ever you find yourself in a position of absolute power and untold sums of cash, only to that power and money flow disrupted overnight (at least it felt overnight to them)... let me know how you ract. The Recording industry did, amittedly, have it coming. They had, with the advent of each new media format (Record, 8 Track, Cassett, CD) they still had ultimate control because of the fact there was physical media involved. When the first CD-Rom came out, everyone was like 'what is the hokey piece of cr... Hey I can copy the music now?' That should have been when the Industry reared its head and attacked: The minute the first CD drive was installed into a computer.
  • What about quality? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by edmicman ( 830206 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @03:05PM (#16613416) Homepage Journal
    If not for CDs, where do I get "original" quality for my digital rips? I don't care about extras on CDs and crap. And yes, when I get my new CD home, I rip it, and really, the MP3s are the only method I actually listen to the music. But I like being able to a)know that I can rip the tracks at whatever bitrate and whatever method I want, and b)the original "master" recording is still sitting there on my shelf.

    If the CD goes away, where will the baseline of quality be? Will 128k be where the bar is set?
  • Re:Novel idea (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rob the Bold ( 788862 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @03:10PM (#16613514)
    They keep calling themselves record companies, which pretty much explains the problem: just like records, they are trapped way back in a time before the age of the internet.

    I have to admit that I still use the term "record" all the time. I don't think another word really describes an audio recording as nicely. I guess I'm just unable to associate "record" with LP the way most people are. When I wish to say "LP" or "cassette" or "CD", I do.

    When I hear someone correcting me for calling a CD a "record", I tend to think of them as the one trapped back in 1987.

    My point is: these companies are still producing audio recordings, but to go around saying "Audio Recordings" instead of "records" just seems too stuffy even for me. And to update the term with each new medium gets boring.

  • by Mateo_LeFou ( 859634 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @03:18PM (#16613660) Homepage
    Lessig told a story in one of his books -- I think it was the Future of Ideas -- about one of the early videocassette models. It had a lock so you had to pay again each time you wanted to watch the tape. Studio guys apparently said this was unacceptable, because there was no way to know how many people were watching the tape each time. They wanted a mechanism that could charge each individual present for each viewing. They still want this. And with all this exciting technology, they might yet get it.
  • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @03:26PM (#16613798)
    1) I generally pay between $7 and $10 for a new CD. How much cheaper do you want it? Granted, this means I pay attention to sales for those I actually want, but it can be done.
    2) ditto - DRM is stupido
    3) while these are disgusting, they're not near as disgusting as the formulaic crap that the industry puts out these days under the onus of maximizing their profits.

    What still amazes me is who draws the large crowds, and who doesn't. What band of the last 5 years is going to draw the attendance of say, the Rolling Stones, U2, or even Bad Company or Cheap Trick in another 5 years? (I can't think of any that recieve top 40 radio play on ClearChannel or Inifity...)

    And therein lies the true crime of the recording industry as it has devolved. It no longer looks for talent, it "creates talent", or at least it thinks it does. Which is why, when a group like the Killers or Franz Ferdinand or The Bravery pops up, I get hopeful that perhaps, just perhaps, we may get another group to add to the "good" list. (the opinion's still out on two, one's already failed)
  • by SQLGuru ( 980662 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @03:35PM (#16614008) Journal
    The only media that you can be sure will be playable in many years is vynil. If you have an unscratched master CD, but there are no CD players, how will you do it? You can make a working record player out of a motor, some gears, and something pointy on a moveable arm. to hear better, you might consider some sort of amplifier, and I'm not talking about the electronic type....think low-tech cardboard megaphone.

    Links for the do-it-yourselfer
    http://www.discoverengineering.org/cool_things/cd/ cd_cool_thing_page.asp [discoverengineering.org]
    http://www.arborsci.com/CoolStuff/cool14.htm [arborsci.com] (section 4)

  • Additional Material (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MrCopilot ( 871878 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @03:50PM (#16614266) Homepage Journal
    How about including iTunes coupons for those songs, with the CD. Negating my need to rip the CD. That's about the only thing that would interest me in buying CD format music again.
  • by mfrank ( 649656 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @03:50PM (#16614268)
    If the CD had the following included:

    A URL to go to for downloading high quality music videos.

    A unique number for each title that lets you see which music videos are currently released for that title. As videos are released, this list grows.

    A number unique to that CD that lets you download each of the videos on that list once. If they want, they can watermark the videos and shut out that CD number if they find any copies floating around.
  • by Golias ( 176380 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @03:54PM (#16614312)
    The whole reason we switched to CDs from records and cassettes was supposedly the higher fidelity of CD audio.

    Early CD audio was inferior to a good turntable. The adoption of CD players happened because:

    1. An "okay" CD player was cheaper than a "barely acceptable" turntable.

    2. Records are a royal pain in the ass to keep clean, unbroken, and unwarped. Mere house dust can damage them forever, and even simply using them as intended in a mythical perfect environment will degrade them eventually.

    3. Cueing up tracks on a record is kind of a hassle on most players.
  • by Golias ( 176380 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @04:13PM (#16614632)
    Actually, if you fill a car with CD's and drive them from one end of the country to the other, you've got some incredible bandwidth there.

    Some simplified math:

    A car holds, what? 600 CDs in the cases (assuming room for the driver)?

    Let's call it 1000.

    A typical album is around 45 minutes of music, let's call it about 410 MB. That's 410,000 MB

    Driving from LA to NY takes just over 41 hours, according to MapQuest.

    That's 10,000 MB per hour, or 2.78 MB per second.

    The trip is 2780.82 miles, so At 20 MPG and $2/gallon, the transfer will cost $278.08, or $100 per MB of data.
  • by cdrguru ( 88047 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @04:37PM (#16614980) Homepage
    The idea of a "music business" or a business based on the distribution of any sort of entertainment is centered around being (a) in control of the content and (b) in control of distribution. Today, the folks in the music business are barely in control of the content and not at all in control of distribution.

    When people can "sample", "mix" or "re-edit" your content, you aren't in control of it. Trying to establish a "brand" with any sort of material that can be reedited, repackaged and resold the minute it ends up in a customer's hands is no control at all.

    Any sort of bargain that people in the entertainment business might have thought they had with customers ended a few years ago. Today, the only reason more than a single copy is sold is inefficiency in today's piracy. Having global organized crime involved with it doesn't help either. The people buying CDs are generally those on dial-up Internet connections or those too old to have heard of Napster and all of its decendents. The fact that these people are spending six times as much as the people paying for downloaded music should be an important clue that virtually nobody is paying for downloaded music - they are just downloading it.

    How will this end? Well, for starters it can be assumed that music distribution on physical media will end pretty soon. No more "record stores". Probably music "promotion" will end as well, and that will take VH1, MTV and most of the ClearChannel radio stations with it. This will have an pretty widespread effect, so if you are involved in a business that in any way interacts with physical distribution of entertainment media - such as selling big bulky CD cases or radio station advertising - you can just kiss your job goodbye.

    Yes, the music CD is dead. The "music business" is probably dead as well, killed off by greedy younglings that want to collect all the songs they can for free. Movies? Probably the idea of a movie studio producing a DVD for profit rather than as an advertising vehicle will be gone soon as well. You might see some "theater-only" productions, where the only attraction would be that it is never, ever going to be available anywhere else but a movie theater.
  • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @05:18PM (#16615596) Homepage Journal
    "But how about the ones you *don't* listen to anymore. Those are the ones I'm talking about. If you're telling me your entire CD library from 20 years ago is just as relevant/meaningful in your life as it is today...well, I'd say bravo good sir."

    I gotta say....pretty much, YES....most all of my entire collection...about 300+ cd's and much of it 20+ year old music...is indeed to me just as relevant to me, as it was when I first discovered it.

    I am like many of the others that have responded to your views of 'disposable' music...most everyone I know in my age range...if they enjoy music a lot...don't ever think of it as 'disposable'. I don't know one would have that attitude? I never buy stuff I really don't like....in fact the opposite. I have to generally really like at minimum 2-3 songs on an album, and usually I've listened to most of the rest of it....before I buy the CD.

    Again, maybe it is because I am from an older generation. Did we have better music then than now? Well, that is arguable. I love the old groups and own most of their entire collections...Zeppelin, Stones, Beatles, The Who...hell, even The Beach Boys and Chuck Berry. But, my tastes in music for the most part....has some bit of the old blues somewhere in it...with either driving guitar riffs...or great vocals or melodies. But, hell...I like old Metallica too...

    IMHO, somewhere in the progression of music....there was a break in what had happened always in the past...one generation took from the previous one, and built upon it....50's to 60's to 70's...and even into the 80's I guess....but, somewhere in the 90s' I think music got 'lost'....but, again, that is debateable...but, I don't see much in music that takes from the past...I don't see real musicianship in today's music....in general...what happened to next Hendrix, Page or Van Halen? Where is a good lead guitarist?

    Maybe something happened to make todays music more disposable than that of the past. I think that is sad...I love the music of my time and before my time...often while listening to it...I flash back onto friends and times when those songs were new to me..

    Another thing I do see....is that young people today...don't appreciate good sound reproduction...I dunno what happened there. I started putting my stereo system to gether since I was about 12...over the years, I've bought, replaced, upgraded....till I got the system of my dreams. And yes, on it, you can hear the difference in a mp3 and a CD...even with my hearing loss over the years..hahaha. But, so many of today do thing...'good enough'. I don't mean you have to spend a ton of money...I didn't at first, I sure wasn't rich, but, I did hear expensive, very high end systems, and knew from a young age what things could sound like in a home. I dunno when kids stopped caring about how good the reproduction was. Is it that todays music isn't recorded well....or is it that there is less musicianship and imagination in songs that it makes no sense to listen with good fidelity? I guess if all you listen to is a thumping bass line...well, what reason is there for midrange and treble..if there is none in a song....

    And I guess there is no denying it....people are different. To me...music actually moves me..at times, on an emotional level...at least the music I buy does. Maybe that is the difference...

    But I have to wonder...if music isn't that imporant...if it doesn't move you...to tears or to wanting to destroy the walls in your house, or on some level....why do you buy it at all? is it nothing more than background noise?

    Maybe it just all boils down to that....but, who knows....I'm just rambling, and throwing out possibilities....

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