Legitimate online download sites need a deeper selection to compete with illegal file-sharing networks and new technologies that impede CD burning will further drive customers away from record stores, said a panel of 19-23 year-olds at the final day of the NARM convention in San Diego.
As the industry looks to new technologies such as DualDisc to curtail CD burning, the panelists–all members of the Recording Academy’s interactive advisory board What’s the Download– cautioned that any technological advances that prevented CDs from being burned or transferred to MP3 players would hurt album sales. “I want to play [a CD] for other people,” said 23 year-old Adam Guerrero, a senior at the University of Colorado at Denver. “I want it on my iPod. That’s the point of music.”
All panelists agreed that CDs that were packaged with a separate DVD make for a more attractive purchase. However, 22 year-old Bahare Batmanghelidj, a recent graduate of the University of Southern California, said she’s tired of her favorite albums being repackaged and re-released with a few extra tracks or a bonus DVD a few months after the initial release. “We’ve caught on to that,” she said.
Moderated by Billboard’s executive editor Tamara Conniff, the panel sought to illustrate what Conniff said was the “big disconnect” between what consumers want and how the industry operates. Guerrero noted he expects to pay between $8 and $12 for a CD, and Joy Mitchell, a 19 year-old sophomore at the University of Southern California, said a large number of consumers will continue to use illegal peer-to-peer services as long as rare cuts, studio outtakes and live shows are not available on legal download sites.
Christie Osborne, a 19 year-old sophomore at the University of San Diego, concurred, saying that she went to iTunes to purchase an exclusive Bright Eyes track. “It was the highlight of my week,” she said.
The panelists said kiosks and download stations at traditional retailers would need value-adds such as local live performances to drive traffic into the stores. “If I could download the one show I went to, I would buy that in a second,” said Batmanghelidj.
The panelists noted that they don’t feel guilty by burning a CD for a friend. In the long term, they said, passing a CD onto a friend would benefit the artist by creating a new fan to buy a concert ticket or a t-shirt. “We are the best marketing tool that the music industry has,” said David Wurzburg, a recent graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz. “Sometimes we and the internet are all [the artists] have.”