The creative possibilities are endless, and the potential for DualDisc has already been demonstrated. If you don't believe me, try listening to Miles Davis' timeless recording "Kind of Blue" in sparkl





Fred Fox is executive VP of merchandising and marketing at Trans World Entertainment.




Last August, the National Assn. of Recording Merchandisers' annual convention kicked off an industry-wide effort to launch a music product called DualDisc.

Guiding the launch were 5.1 Entertainment Group/Silverline Records, EMI Music, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group. Some in the industry were skeptical, while others held their breath and committed themselves to making DualDisc a success.

Nearly 11 months later, the industry has delivered on its promise to provide a product that gives music fans compelling reasons to buy a complete album. Indeed, DualDisc brings a new value proposition to our consumer base and is generating excitement from customers, artists and even some of my competitors in music retailing.

A DualDisc typically contains a full-length album on the CD side and music and video on the DVD side. The innovation is really on the DVD side, where documentaries, promotional videos, enhanced stereo and often 5.1 surround sound of the full-length album exist alongside special features. Here a fan can connect with an artist, and an artist can add a new dimension to his or her music.

DualDisc was conceived in response to consumer demand for greater value in a packaged music product. A December 2004 study by Jupiter Research found that despite all the noise about downloading, packaged products will not be replaced by digital music in the next five years. In fact, even with the extraordinary growth of digital music, 51% of music consumers think physical formats are more valuable than digital ones.

Added value is what consumers are getting with DualDisc. Statistics from a recent survey of more than 20,000 U.S. music consumers revealed that 96% are interested in buying new material released on DualDisc while 89% are interested in DualDiscs of catalog CDs.

In the past year, DualDiscs by such acts as Simple Plan, Bruce Springsteen, Rob Thomas, Nine Inch Nails, Blondie, Jennifer Lopez and the Grateful Dead have caught the attention of consumers, who have purchased more than 3 million DualDiscs to date.

But in order for the format to completely realize its potential, we all need to commit to its success. Everyone from senior label executives to the part-time staff on the sales floor must learn what the DualDisc has to offer. Distribution needs to effectively communicate those benefits to retailers. Store managers must ensure that their staff can address consumer questions and spotlight the value DualDisc brings to the music experience.

To further stir retail activity, the industry needs to use its resources to encourage artists to reaffirm their talent on DualDisc's broader palette. Labels and artists need to explore the opportunities inherent in the format to create material that reaches consumers on multiple levels.

The creative possibilities are endless, and the potential for DualDisc has already been demonstrated. If you don't believe me, try listening to Miles Davis' timeless recording "Kind of Blue" in sparkling 5.1 surround sound without telling your ears that you've been hearing in black-and-white all your life.

For a real treat, watch Jon Lovitz's hilarious interview with the Wallflowers on "Rebel Sweetheart," or Rob Thomas as he records portions of " . . . Something to Be," or Bruce Springsteen as he explains what motivated him to create the stirring tracks on "Devils & Dust" during an intimate acoustic set. Or listen to developing artist Lauren Ellis give a live performance of "Dry As a Bone," from her "Feels Like Family" album. For a new perspective on a classic, check out the never-before-seen interview with Mickey Hart and Bob Weir on the Grateful Dead's "American Beauty."

Whether or not the DualDisc will ultimately replace the CD is not important. As an industry, now is the time to support this product with our marketing and promotion expertise, making sure the word gets out about the value of DualDisc. From my experience, it should not be a hard sell.