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Frodo's Ghost | CD Packaging. The death of an industry.
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CD Packaging. The death of an industry.

For a few years now many people have been touting the death of CD packaging. It is either the ultimate in sales words – Apple and their music store, or is from the mouth of music CEO‘s, who don’t know how to stay in business.

For those same years I have been hanging onto the thread of light that it was not true. I believed in my heart that the end of the CD, handheld packaging and getting a physical item would outway that of a digital download. I do believe in this economical based world, that this is declining…

I’ll start by relating how this topic came up.

I have been a Payable on Death fan since their first major release – The Fundamental Elements of Southtown. I remember the very day I purchased that CD, and I remember listening in awe as the tracks played, very loud, from my ‘technically enhanced’ (ie, larger speakers with still the small amp) Cd player. Man, those were good times. I have stayed a fan of P.O.D since then, even going to the first Sydney show on our honeymoon.

So when I heard that they were doing a new one, and that Invisible Creature we doing the packaging I was very keen to get the CD. Only the CD would do. I didn’t want to download the CD from iTunes, because I wanted to sit and listen, while reading the lyrics…

Well, I went into JB-Hi-Fi to get the cd. Finally, after I had waited two months, I went into the store to pick up the album. And while there, I was presented with a choice: The US import edition, or the standard AUS edition. With the $10 price difference I chose the AUS one. And this post was born…

Yes, I selected a cheeper edition, and so I got a cheeper packaging. I was after all going to import the songs onto my computer. But it was when I was home and flipped open the tray that I noticed where the difference in the weight was. The aussie case was a lot more light weight than the imported one.

Yep. Thats the story here. The light weight case was the straw that broke the camels back.

Snapping the camel’s back

The most annoying thing about the CD I purchased was not the artwork. It was brilliant, and it was the reason why I got the CD, definatly most impressive. The music was nothing special, but that is besides the point here… The thing that got me, was the way the music corporation releasing this music had handed out the case (yep, I assigned blame here…).

It was light weight. One knock could have broken an edge, or snapped the small plastic hinge, or put a crack through the cover. Any of these was not the end to the music, the CD and the artwork would have survived unscathed. What it would have done is been a permanent tribute to the manufacturing of the album, a lasting sign to where money goes in the records production.

Yes primarily the music comes first. The artwork comes second. Third, well, this is the let down – the packaging looses out because of a couple of dollars. Cut corners, increase product margins.

This is nothing new. And I guess this is just me being an idealist, but why do we need a third party whose motivation for a band to succeed is them earning money for it? Aren’t ‘they’ the reason we have bands like Good Charlotte and the Spice Girls?

I am an Idealist

Based on previous talks I have had with people (one here) I think that the days of finding a record label are approaching the end. Because the people in suits who choose, select and release the music aren’t exactly passionate with the music as the artist themselves. Bad financial times make deep pockets a little shallower, and knuckles a little tighter, and people like myself who go to select a product end up with something a little less.

Not saying that the lack of passion drives the music industry. There are labels that are uber-passionate about what they do. But bottom line, a label doesn’t function without money. So therefore the executives have to be focused on promoting bands and also earning money, lets say, returning their investment. No matter how focused on the band/scene/music a label is they still need money to survive.

So being an idealist, and maybe being part hack/entrepreneur/crazy my first idea is to remove the lacking part from the industry. Lets kick out the music industry suits, the companies who fund the bands we hear on radio stations. Lets try it for a bit…

Changing the Guard

So here is my proposal. A kind of crazy internet thing, that I reckon has legs to work. Over the in the next few posts, I’m going to do some research into the music industry to find interesting places to go, or avoid. And see how it would apply to a real band.

james
1 Comment
  • […] have been thinking quiet a bit about my last post – titled The Death on an Industry. I have been thinking of doing a new one and have hit many brick walls – usually when that happens […]

    November 23, 2008 at 11:28 am