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DualDisc Format Takes Off

Springsteen, AC/DC, Nine Inch Nails release combination CD/DVDs

BRIAN HIATTPosted Mar 23, 2005 12:00 AM

Six months after the low-key launch of the CD/DVD hybrid known as DualDisc, major labels are planning a big show of faith in the fledgling format: Two of April's highest-profile releases -- Bruce Springsteen's Devils and Dust and Rob Thomas' solo debut, Something to Be -- will be available only as DualDiscs. The format pairs a standard CD on one side of a disc with a DVD on the flip side that offers video content and, often, a surround-sound mix of the record.

DualDisc versions of the new Nine Inch Nails and Bon Jovi albums are in the works, and a flood of extras-packed reissues -- from AC/DC's Back in Black to David Bowie's Reality -- are already exploiting the format. "In the long term, we definitely see a transition from CD to DualDisc," says Thomas Hesse, president of global digital business for Sony BMG. Sony, which owns Springsteen's label, Columbia Records, formed a consortium last year with the other three major record companies to promote the new discs.

DualDisc's video content echoes the bonus material on movie DVDs. Devils and Dust, for instance, includes arty footage of Springsteen performing his new songs solo, shot by famed rock photographer Danny Clinch. As with regular music DVDs (record labels' fastest-growing sales category), fans can't easily trade the videos online. "DualDisc is certainly part of the process of helping to stop piracy," says Paul Bishow, a vice president of marketing at Universal Music Group, which is releasing the NIN and Bon Jovi records.

The first album to debut on DualDisc, Simple Plan's Still Not Getting Any..., has gone platinum since its release last fall. Recent albums by Omarion, Jennifer Lopez and Judas Priest are available on both DualDisc and standard CD; each has sold at least thirty percent of their total in the new format. "Retailers have been surprised at how big DualDisc sales are," says Best Buy VP Jennifer Schaidler.

But DualDisc prices, which can be one to three dollars more than standard CDs, may be an obstacle to wider acceptance. In part because of additional manufacturing costs (seventy cents more per disc, one executive says), labels charge higher wholesale prices for DualDiscs. "Our feeling is it should be the same price as a CD," says Russ Eisenman, senior vice president of marketing at Tower Records. "But if that extra dollar pays for content that the consumer finds valuable, then it's fine."

Five DualDiscs You Need:

Bruce Springsteen
Devils and Dust
What's cool: Springsteen tells the stories behind powerful new songs like "Long Time Comin'."
Highlight: Bonus footage of an acoustic Springsteen performance shot by photographer Danny Clinch.

AC/DC
Back in Black
What's cool: A spiffed-up mix means "Hells Bells" rings louder than ever. Includes interviews and rare live footage.
Highlight: The Young brothers show how they wrote "You Shook Me All Night Long."

Good Charlotte
The Young and the Hopeless
What's cool: Enhanced sound and a backstage documentary beef up Good Charlotte's snot-nosed 2002 album.
Highlight: The MTV-style doc shows them getting tattoos, going to the zoo and meeting preteen fans.

David Bowie
Reality
What's cool: Bowie's 2003 comeback album is amped up with a 5:1 surround-sound mix and video extras.
Highlight: A surreal short film in which the singer conducts an interview with himself.

Nine Inch Nails
The Downward Spiral
What's cool: Reznor revisits his 1994 masterpiece with souped-up sound and three music videos.
Highlight: The "Hurt" video, an intense, spooky solo performance from the Downward Spiral tour.


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DualDisc "Devils"


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