Warning: CDs May R.I.P.

Two keynote speeches from top recording execs painted a very grim picture of the CD’s future, with EMI chairman and CEO Alain Levy going as far as to pronounce it dead.

He said record companies must take a serious look at the package they’re marketing if they hope to sell the discs in the future.

“We have to be much more innovative in the way we sell physical content,” he told the October 27 London Media Summit.

“By the beginning of next year, none of our content will come without any additional material,” he told the audience at London Business School, pointing out that record companies must make CDs more appealing.

“Power is shifting everywhere from manufacturers, content providers and retailers to consumers. In this age of empowerment, the consumer is king,” he continued, noting that 60 percent of people rip their music CDs on their computers to transfer the songs to digital music players such as Apple Computer’s market-leading iPod.

On the same day, Sony BMG U.K. chairman and CEO Ged Doherty was painting it even grimmer as he opened this year’s In The City festival and conference.

In a keynote address to delegates at Manchester’s Midland Hotel, he said, “We figure the value of CD sales will be 50 percent less in three years than it is now,” while predicting that a 25 percent growth in digital sales will fail to make up the loss.

“By 2010, we will be 30 percent behind in terms of revenues,” he explained, later echoing Levy’s words by saying, “We have to reinvent.”

He also spoke about the major labels’ inability to provide a vision and develop artists, the faults of major label artist contracts, and even admitted that, by and large, neither artists nor consumers trust the major labels.

In The City held an October 30th press reception at 235, Manchester’s new casino, to announce details of two major new events: In The City New York and In The City A.A.A (Australia, Australasia, Asia).

The new, two-day New York City convention will take place June 13-14 at the W Hotel, Union Square, Manhattan. A full program of live music events will be held at the Nokia Theatre Times Square over the two days.

ITC A.A.A will be a three-day event that will take place in November 2007. It will be held at The Dexton Hotel in Perth, Australia. Again, a full program of live music events will be taking place in venues around the Northbridge district in Perth.

– John Gammon