I’ve always been a “maximize” the format kind of person. When I made the very first DVD-Video titles back in 1997 (March 19, 1997 to be exact), I wanted the discs to have lots of bonus materials. The arrival of the DVD-Video format offered the possibility of interactivity in a way that CD never could. Let’s make use of all of the capabilities of the format, I thought. The major studios at the time were not interested in producing discs with lots of non-movie bonus material. Their concept of the DVD format was simply think of it as a replacement for VHS tape cassettes. DVDs were just a better way to delivery a linear movie…better video, surround sound, switchable subtitles etc. It took a while but they eventually came around. Now there are whole companies that are doing nothing but producing bonus material for DVD and BDs released by the major motion picture studios.
So our AIX Records “music” albums include a full video of the session in addition to the music tracks. There are multiple audio mixes available. You can choose between standard 2.0 channel stereo at 96 kHz/24-bits and TWO 5.1 surround mixes (“Stage” vs. “Audience” perspective). Then there’s the digital version of liner notes…including video interviews, behind-the-scenes footage and extensive tech notes. I’ve even put guitar lessons and printable sheet music on a few titles. Why not?
Figure 1 – David Gregory and Mark Waldrep wearing 3D glasses during our 2010 3D shoot.
I produce things that I would like to purchase. Things with lots of added value. But there are problems when you produce something that is unique and innovative. Marketers, retailers, promoters and online outlets don’t know how to categorize them. “What is this?”, they ask. “Is it a live concert?” Amazon has our stuff listed in the “Movies and Television” section of their site. They list me, the producer, as the director and the singers/musicians as actors. They don’t list the songs because they think I release movies. It’s pretty frustrating. I agree that I have to do a lot more explaining than the guys next to me at the trade shows. How hard is it to sell a CD or vinyl LP? It’s just a music album.
Figure 2 – A screen capture of the Amazon site showing ACTOR and DIRECTOR credits…argh!
The reason why I started AIX Records was not to produce a bunch of new albums the standard way, sit back and watch the dollars roll in. While we sell enough records to make the investment of time, energy and dollars worthwhile, it is not a hugely profitable enterprise (maybe the investor type was right). I started the label and continue to stand in front of a sales tables at trade shows around the country because I get comments, phone calls and emails from customers that appreciate what we do. I wanted to prove to a rather stagnant music industry the making something with no compromises would sell on its own merits. That audiophiles and music lovers would recognize the dramatic difference in the sound AND additional features associated with our releases.