Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Musicland trying out CD-burning kiosks

I know for a fact that Musicland Group -- owners of Sam Goody, MediaPlay and Suncoast -- have been warily eyeing the CD-burning kiosk market for a while now. Worried about eroding their sales of regular CDs, these devices were largely seen as a costly, complex hassle. However, with the recent success of things like Apple's iTunes, retailers realize that they're going to have to start taking steps to keep people coming into their stores. Thus, Musicland is going to start installed CD-burning machines into many of their stores across the country. As the Modesto Bee notes:

The Minneapolis-based chain includes Sam Goody and Suncoast stores. Willey said more than 20 stores will get stations by year's end at hefty cost of $25,000 each.

The systems are so expensive because of record labels' copyright protections and quality-control restrictions on how the music is stored and burned. Most labels require super-premium blank CDs costing five times the price of a basic blank disc.

Still, more than a dozen small companies have developed CD-burning kiosks.

"It is turning the corner from something that's planned to something that's real," said Bob French, maker of the Mix & Burn technology being used by Musicland. French believes the future is in tossing CD burners and letting customers download songs directly to MP3 players.

But analysts and many other retailers are skeptical.

"There's still too many issues that have got to be solved from an industry perspective, to (get to) where customers can easily access content without having to jump through hoops," said Dave Alder, top marketing officer for Virgin Entertainment Group in North America. "It has to be intuitive, it has to be fun and simple.… The industry isn't ready yet."

You can read the rest of the article here.

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