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Is Music Being Crowded Out By Movies?


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#1 of 41 OFFLINE   Lee Scoggins

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Posted March 26 2003 - 03:42 PM

Think about this...box office receipts are steadily increasing in tough economic conditions despite what one may think about the quality of some of the bigger hits...

Recorded music sales, detailed in the chart in the new Fortune magazine, are taking a big decline down...

I think one explanation besides lack of quality and the RIAA's favorite and questionable target of downloading is that other entertainment like movies, sports (?), TV offer more perceived value to the customer...

Maybe an $8 movie ticket is worth more to the average American than $16 on a CD that may only get played a few times...

Maybe the high dollar contracts for big music acts have developed to be so lopsided that labels have to gamble on them even if it wipes out profits...as Paul Simon says, "another generation throws a hero up the pop charts"...I seeem to believe that more one-hit or two-hit wonders is causing the industry to be dominated by fans shorter term love of artists which leads to adverse selection of lower quality musicians.

Maybe a "doom loop" is active such as follows:

1. Record executive under earnings pressure from publicly held media company (almost all with low returns to shareholders) seeks to spend big money on brand name artist to guarantee profits.

2. Artist work gets packaged into one-hit or two-hit wonder albums that quickly shoot up the chart and down.

3. Artist development caters to ever younger, ever more fickle fan base.

4. Labels are perceived to not be rewarded to spend money developing talent. More dollars moved into pop/rock/rap segments and away from loyal customers in jazz and classical.

5. Serious listeners driven from market, less appeal for older music listener.

6. College students justifiably rebel against collusive pricing by downloading in mass for music collection.

7. Other labels follow suit which jacks up contract to say Pariah Carey, Robbie Williams, and others to insane and unjustified rates.

8. Declining listener dynamics further squeeze profits.

9. Cycle repeats: Lower profits (and losses!) lead to further gamble bigger on bigger names, further lessen artist development, lower expenses on scouting, etc.

What do you think?

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#2 of 41 OFFLINE   Carl Johnson

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Posted March 26 2003 - 04:16 PM

It's been years since I last bought a CD but it's not because of any fancy loop. I always assumed that I got less interested in modern music because I got old. Ten years ago there were a handful of artists that I was sure to buy the day that it was released and I've been listening to the same tracks ever since. There are a few modern artists that I like enough to download and burn tracks but if it wern't for the computer I would do without rather than paying top dollar for tracks that I'm only moderately interested in. If new releases were priced $8-10 rather than $15-20 I'd be more likely to buy but even that change wouldn't take me back to buying CDs like I used to.

#3 of 41 OFFLINE   Lee Scoggins

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Posted March 26 2003 - 04:35 PM

Quote:
There are a few modern artists that I like enough to download and burn tracks but if it wern't for the computer I would do without rather than paying top dollar for tracks that I'm only moderately interested in.


This seems to fit in nicely with what I am saying...

Quote:
If new releases were priced $8-10 rather than $15-20 I'd be more likely to buy but even that change wouldn't take me back to buying CDs like I used to.


This is an excellent point. I wished I had addressed the cost of music...probably impacts #2 and #6.

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#4 of 41 OFFLINE   Phil A

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Posted March 26 2003 - 04:53 PM

Lee, I'm not sure I would equate movie theater sales to sales of CDs. I wonder if sales of live concert events or shows or plays are up or down. Movies are still a very reasonable bargain generally vs. concerts, plays, etc. and can generally be viewed locally at more places. I also wonder with the way DVD took off whether the sales of DVDs and rental of them as well are up or down. The DVD is I believe the most successful in terms of speed of any consumer product. One also does not have the option to rent CDs the same way as DVDs. I wonder how much is sold or rented of concert DVDs vs. people who would buy the music CD. Music as noted is also more readily downloaded and also DVDs in terms of ease of use, sound quality, etc. does not really have serious competition from other digital formats for example as MP3. Music competion also exists with radio broadcasts. Many people get music on their cable or satellite stations, XM, etc. and can also record or enjoy the music. DVDs of course to some extend may have pay-per-view or other broadcasts as some competition but w/o some of the conveniences of DVDs.

#5 of 41 OFFLINE   Lee Scoggins

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Posted March 26 2003 - 05:47 PM

Quote:
Movies are still a very reasonable bargain generally vs. concerts, plays, etc. and can generally be viewed locally at more places.


This is exactly my point. I am not equating the two things but saying that they compete very effectively for limited entertainment dollars. Posted Image
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#6 of 41 OFFLINE   Kevin C Brown

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Posted March 26 2003 - 07:26 PM

Lee- I do somewhat agree. I have finite time very week for "media" entertainment. I used to watch zero movies on VHS/Beta/DVD/whatever at home. Now, 1 or 2 movies a week. That might not seem like a lot, but at even 2 hrs a day, 4 hrs / 14 is a sizeable percentage. And actually? I've got my system to the point where I'd *rather* watch flics at home. (But the wife still sometimes just simply wants to "go out" and we do. Posted Image )

But I will also say this, I do buy a heck of a lot less CDs than I used to. It is some combination of me getting older, and not finding (or somehow being exposed to) a lot of new music that I'd want to buy. Have I back filled all those purchases with DVDs? A little, but no. Got Netflix. Posted Image I still listen to college radio. 120 min is gone (or seems to be from MTV), and a house takes up a lot of time that I would just go "shopping" for stuff. (What used to be my fave local CD store, has lots of used stuff, and a bunch of players on which you can listen before you buy.)

I guess maybe in general, I'm not the demographic that record companies go after anymore, and for the youngsters, maybe it is more downloadable stuff, video games, DVDs, and computers and web surfing in general that's occupying their time and denaro. Interesting question though! Oh yeah, to complete the thought process, I have actually never downloaded an MP3 in my life (still dial up), so at least in my case, that isn't where the sales went.

Although if I was to mention my last few CD purchases: Yes box set, Deep Purple box set, Interpol (new stuff), the Black Sea (new stuff; Fugazi spin off), Sheriff & Alias (filling in my Heart/Roger Fisher collection...) Anyway! Posted Image
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#7 of 41 OFFLINE   JerryLA

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Posted March 26 2003 - 11:59 PM

I would tend to agree with most of the comments in these posts! Personally, like Kevin, I don't buy CDs like I used to. I remember walking into a CD store and after about an hour of browsing having to decide which ones I really wanted and which ones to put back and wait for my next trip. These days if I go to a music store and browse for 10 minutes I can't find one thing I want to buy. Geting older is a big portion of it. The artists I like just don't put out the product anymore, at least not every year. I do buy some new music, and some of it is very good, some very bad. I tend to buy more DVDs now than CDs. I tend to buy more music concert DVD's than movies. That would be interesting to see, if concerts released on DVD affect the sale of tickets to live shows. I know the older I get, the more appealing it is to see Santana live in my living room in 5.1, than pay a couple hundred dollars to see him live, while the as***e in front of me dances and sings along with each song. Oh well, guess I'm showing my age.....

#8 of 41 OFFLINE   Angelo.M

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Posted March 27 2003 - 01:18 AM


We are at an important crossroads in the natural history of the CD.

Just a handful of DVD titles outsold all CD titles in the US last year, and for good reason it seems: the value/cost ratio for a DVD is substantially greater.

I think/hope that the recording industry learns from this and re-develops the concept of the 'album release' and changes it into something special. I think that the CD, DVD and high-resolution formats like DVD-A will converge, and we are not far from the day when new albums are released as some type of DVD, wherein you have the music, concert or studio footage, and other supplemental materials. Convergence, baby.


#9 of 41 OFFLINE   Scott Merryfield

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Posted March 27 2003 - 01:27 AM

This thread has made several valid points. Personally, I purchase a lot fewer CD's than I used to, and I have never downloaded a piece of music from the Internet. In my case, I attribute this to (1) spending funds previously used for CD's on DVD's now, and (2) getting older and being less interested in the latest artists (I am 40 years old).

I have been purchasing CD's for about 18 years now, and have almost 550 titles in my collection, but I have probably only added about 50 of those titles since first getting into DVD's. I have been collecting DVD's for about 4.5 years, yet have over 650 titles in my collection. My wife and I only go to 3-5 movies in the theater each year, so that is really not a factor in our case. It is very obvious where my entertainment dollar is going.

#10 of 41 OFFLINE   John Watson

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Posted March 27 2003 - 01:32 AM

VIDEO KILLED THE RADIO STAR (The Buggles, 1979) We're a visually dominated society.

Someone (who was once considered a sage) said that a picture was worth a 1000 words.

Radio and recorded music turned reading into a minority cult.

And in a post-literate society, based on images : movies, TV and PC's, the art of engaged listening and solitary thinking that music demands, is in the parlance, not "accessible" to the masses. The imagination is replaced by explicit images, visual prompts, etc.

Personally, I love Queen's RADIO GAGA, or like to read with some quiet music in the background. I have probably bought over 2000 LPs in the day, and maybe as many cds since then.

But now I am buying more movies, and think I have a list of only about 10-20 more pop music cds to acquire. Other music I want will probably be classical.

Today's National Post (in Canada) has a long article on decline in CD sales, and relates it not just to downloading, but also to the DVD.

On the cost of cd's relative to DVD's and almost costless downloads (which have all been discussed here a lot in the past year or so) as a factor in sales decline, some of the industry figures and analysts in the above article seem to be considering shorter albums, as a way of reducing costs.

One of my beefs with the cd era was it seemed to give people who believe more was better, an opportunity to give the public 80 minutes of "product". So groups felt committed to producing 75+ minute albums. And they had to write the materiel themselves, both because they imagined themselves great artists, and for the increased royalties, so we end up with a couple of good numbers, and 70 minutes of dreck. When I think of some of my new disk buying in the last 10 years, I remember how bored I got with overly long disks by Black Crows, Propellerheads, Roots, etc. They just didn't have the materiel to justify that long a disk.

The most recent disk I bought is Tony Bennet with kd lang - about 45 minutes of quality songs. There are only 4 songs that I did not know of, and for about $20 Cdn + tax, I can say I enjoy the disk.

#11 of 41 OFFLINE   Lee Scoggins

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Posted March 27 2003 - 01:48 AM

Quote:
and relates it not just to downloading, but also to the DVD


That I can agree with as well. The terrific popularity of DVDs has got to siphon off CD dollars. I was thinking of movies including both cinema and Home Theater when I wrote the post.

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#12 of 41 OFFLINE   Jordan_E

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Posted March 27 2003 - 02:19 AM

To touch another point, the Sam Goody at my local mall has drastically cut back on the CDs and has easily tripled the space for DVDs. Myself, I'm getting close to the "so what" level toward DVDs now, while my excitement over new DVDA and SACD releases grows.
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#13 of 41 OFFLINE   Scott Oliver

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Posted March 27 2003 - 02:28 AM

I think the music is industry themselves are at fault for a lot of the problems for pretty much all the reasons you listed at the top.

Another thing that I think is funny is how kids seem to link video quality to music quality. When MTV interviews a kid (by kid I mean their typical college age and below audience members) about their favorite artist, reasons given for liking the artist almost always have to do with a cool video or the looks of the artist vs. anything to do with the musical content.

#14 of 41 OFFLINE   Phil A

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Posted March 27 2003 - 02:38 AM

I agree with the above posts that most retailers have increased DVD space and cut back on CD space. However, getting old is no reason to stop buying CDs. There is always Lawrence Welk on the shelves.Posted Image

#15 of 41 OFFLINE   Rachael B

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Posted March 27 2003 - 02:59 AM

Lee, the durability of CD's is a factor to work in. Unless you really abuse them they last a long time. When I was a teenager I bought Johnny Winter And on vinyl proably 5 times. I think video games are CD's biggest competition for teenager's money.

Prices are the biggest problem. There is a market for music but not at the prices the industry wants. Music is ceasing to be a mass market item at current prices day by day. It's also too hard for most folks to hear any new, intresting music if they were actually looking to buy. Commercial radio is full of the SOS. The music industry could hardly be more out of whack!
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#16 of 41 OFFLINE   TheLongshot

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Posted March 27 2003 - 03:17 AM

Well, it looks like I'm the exception here in that I probably buy more CDs now than ever. Mainly, tho, it is because of finding artists through various mailing lists and word of mouth, rather than the efforts of "Big Music".

I can certanly see the view that DVDs are a much better value for the most part, but for me, I can listen to music while doing other things (work, driving) and I can't do that with movies. So, I end up listening to more music than I do watching movies.

I can say, tho, that I do buy a lot more movies since DVD came out as well.

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#17 of 41 OFFLINE   Michael St. Clair

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Posted March 27 2003 - 03:38 AM

Most people like to hear music before they buy it.

Radio sucks.

Radio has to get more diverse if the record industry is going to get healthier.

#18 of 41 OFFLINE   Iain Lambert

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Posted March 27 2003 - 04:30 AM

Since we're currently at the point where its not unusual for me to find the score of a film more expensive than the DVD of the film itself (and this is even the case where DVDs have the score on the disc), its hardly surprising really that many think CDs are overpriced.
mmm, thats odd.

#19 of 41 OFFLINE   Mike Broadman

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Posted March 27 2003 - 04:55 AM

The culture of music has changed. I think in general, people just take it less seriously. If you're with a group of people and start talking about music, you're lucky to find one or two others who care about the artist/band in question, or even the topic in general. But if you bring up movies, everyone can get into the conversation.

Film is more of a shared pop culture, such that people are more interested in what everyone's watching and talking about. This is no longer true of music. I think one of the reasons is that there is no strong musical movement. A look at the charts shows a wide variety of watered down stylings- Shania Twain, 50 Cent, etc. There is no direction.

#20 of 41 OFFLINE   Darryl

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Posted March 27 2003 - 06:05 AM

My CD purchase rate has gone way down. For me personally, the biggest reason is that I spend a lot of money on DVDs. Every dollar I spend on a movie is a dollar I won't spend on music. Why movies instead of music? Mostly because my wife and kids will watch the same movies I do, but they won't listen to the same music that I listen to in most cases. I didn't get married until after DVDs were around, so I don't know if this would have been true in the days of VHS. Probably so.

Another issue for me is hi-res music formats. There are several albums I've been tempted to buy recently, but decided to hold back due to hopes that they will be released in a hi-res format. That's probably not an issue for the vast majority of people, but for me it is.

And finally, new music just doesn't interest me as much as older music. I'm not that old (32), but I'm a lot more likely to listen to music from the 70s than music released in the last year. That's not to say recent music is bad; it just isn't as enjoyable to me personally.


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