Warner Music has begun the industry-wide launch of its new music disc format: MVI. The Music Video Interactive (MVI) discs can contain high quality audio, as well as music videos, ringtones, MP3s and wallpapers.
The MVI discs are playable in DVD players, computers and some games consoles but, crucially, not in CD players. The new format succeeds the likes of DVD-Audio and SACD, two doomed high quality disc formats which tried to challenge low-quality MP3s, and failed.
"The CD is for someone who just wants the tunes," says Geoff Mayfield, Billboard's director of charts. "A real fan wants the pricier package. A computer unlocks the goodies: ringtones, wallpaper, MP3s. The idea is: let's put one version out for the masses and a completist edition for the die-hard."
The format is having a fairly cautious launch; so far only six bands have confirmed that they will put out discs on the MVI format. Among them are the Flaming Lips, who are known for having put released music on DVD-Audio in the past. The Flips will release their live album UFOs at the Zoo on MVI in the US tomorrow.
Can MVI be a success?
"It's an attempt to keep the physical game alive," says Warner Bros Records' Eric Fritschi. "First, there's a lot more space on the disc. Second, so many more people are experiencing music on their computers, and you can build a whole interactive element. It's about a key that unlocks different content."
But despite the likes of Linkin Park and James Blunt also supporting the format, it's hard to see it catching on. DVD-Audio and SACD were both monumental flops. They were rejected because the idea of having to find and insert a disc every time you want to hear an album is seen as very old-fashioned.
People like downloading music and having it just a couple of clicks away at any time. The bonus material on MVI discs might attract some, but MP3s, JPG wallpapers and ringtones can also all be downloaded from the web, so where's the benefit?