All eyes are on the latest music-industry merger: a disc that has a conventional CD album on one side and a DVD on the other.
The new format, called DualDisc, plays in most CD and DVD players and retails for $1 to $3 more than a regular CD. The hybrid discs feature a standard recording on Side A, and content such as music videos, concert footage, interviews, and photo galleries on the flip side. Most of the DualDiscs also feature a 5.1 surround-sound mix of the album for the growing number of consumers who have high-end speaker systems hooked up to their DVD players.
That's not to suggest that the discs are narrowly aimed at the audiophile crowd. Record labels are hoping that a high-profile release such as Bruce Springsteen's "Devils & Dust," which will be available only on DualDisc upon its release at the end of the month, will make ordinary CD buyers aware of the product's potential.
The industry's adoption of the DualDisc is part of an effort to reduce the steady decline of CD sales. Illegal file sharing, not to mention the dramatic growth of MP3 music sales, have flummoxed an industry whose decades-old distribution network has been geared to deliver products to record-store racks. Though recording companies are getting into the MP3 business, they're also bundling multimedia material onto albums to shore up the traditional sales model.
"The industry is very much trying to add value to the CD," says Brian Garrity, a business writer at Billboard magazine. "We're basically operating in a time where physical-product music has been substantially devalued."