Bonus DVDs Fight Piracy?

The music industry's reaction to a prolonged sales slump has been a desperate effort to create legislative and technological deterrents to force consumers to stop downloading MP3s and copying CDs.

Ludicrous proposals from Hollywood and Washington have become almost daily fare. They have been categorically denounced by civil libertarians and rejected by music fans, who have long maintained that the real answer to what ails the music business is a market solution. The music industry can't force people to buy its products, but it can package them in a way that will induce consumers to buy because they can't get the content any other way.

Hence, the "bonus DVD," a collection of video entertainment bundled with an audio CD. Several record labels have experimented with packaging two discs in one jewel case, with encouraging results. "The bonus DVD format has helped sales considerably on P.O.D.'s limited edition release of Satellite," Atlantic Records vice president Gloria Gabrielle told Pro Sound News. "It was also a great way to introduce The Donnas to the public on their Atlantic debut." The group's Spend the Night is also a two-disc set—one a CD, the other a DVD. Bonus DVDs "create added value and content for the consumer," Gabrielle said.

"We've actually seen albums which have been out for a year increase their sales 200% or more, week over week, when one of our bonus DVDs was added," said David Anthony, president of Metropolis DVD, the New York–based production house that has created bonus discs for several labels. "Bonus DVDs are a relatively inexpensive way to add a compelling addition to the CD that not only gets fans closer to the artist but offers them something unique that they can only get by buying the CD. Our challenge is to create something that fans feel they have to have."

Other pop hits with bonus DVDs include Pink's M!ssundazstood on the Arista label and Janet Jackson's All for You DVD Edition for Virgin Records. CDs with bonus DVDs are priced competitively with ordinary CDs.