I'm all for Sony BMG's effort to create a direct-to-consumer mobile content portal. I've always said the music industry should do more to take control of its own digital destiny rather than rely on its technology partners to do all the work.
Record labels have shown they are far more willing to partner and experiment in the mobile space than they have in the broader digital market. Not completely sure why, but there it is.
What's cool about the joint venture with Dada is that Sony BMG's not trying to carry the load itself. The wireless business is confusing on both a technical and cultural level, and as one who has lived in that world for more than 10 years I've seen my share of content providers stumble when trying to go it alone.
Also, the joint venture is open to accepting other partners, hopefully other record labels, so we don't end up with a motley collection of different D2C sites for each label.
Ringtone sales may be slowing down, but the mobile entertainment business has plenty of legs left in it. To think wireless operators are going to own the storefront by themselves is selling the opportunity short.
In a quixotic attempt to stave off the inevitable, Hollywood Records introduced the new CDVU+ format for CDs -- which adds digital content like lyrics, video and photos to CDs similar to DVD extras.
I applaud the idea in principle. Fans should be rewarded for acquiring music through authorized channels and efforts should be made to make legally acquired music more valuable.
I'm sure there are many music fans that will find such extras valuable, but why use them as a speed bump to slow down the decline of CD sales when they could accelerate digital sales instead?
One of the reasons digital revenues haven't yet made up for falling CD sales is because there is still a lot missing from the digital experience. When I download a song digitally -- be it an a la carte service or a music subscription service -- I still don't get song lyrics with it like I do when I buy a CD.
There's no reason a digital download can't include not only lyrics, but also animated cover art, embedded video outtakes and pretty much everything else that Hollywood Records is adding to CDVU+ discs.
Of course it will take the participation of digital music retailers to add such capabilities to their services and desktop software, which I hope is why Hollywood Records went first with a CD that it has complete control over. And I'm not saying there's no room to improve the CD and extend its lifespan a bit to work better in tandem with a digital future.
But in my view, improving the digital sales experience with more features and better content will pay far greater dividends more quickly than improving the CD sales experience will. It's the difference between helping something succeed more quickly versus helping something fail less slowly.