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Inside Move: DVD-CD combo hums along

Music biz hush-hush about dual disc future

A format that some music industry execs are championing as the way to stem the tide of piracy, a combination DVD-CD, has received its first planned release.

EnXnet and OneDisc Technologies have partnered to become the first company to announce plans to release a single-disc combination DVD and CD. Twenty-three episodes of “The Adventures of Chico & Guapo,” an animated skein that appeared on FX’s now-canceled “Orlando Jones Show,” will debut on the two-sided disc with a soundtrack produced by Dallas Austin on the flip side. OneDisc, the marketing and sales company for EnXnet’s DVDPlus 2.0 Disc, did not announce a release date.

The announcement comes as word has slowly leaked about Warner Music Group actively working on creating its own combination disc. The so-called “dual disc” would take advantage of the skyrocketing popularity of DVDs and the encryption technology that makes DVDs more difficult to copy than compact discs. If all goes as planned, Warners will begin releasing dual discs beginning late this year and by March have about 30 titles in the marketplace. Most of the albums, which will be released in standard CD packaging, will be new releases.

Warner executives have been close-mouthed about the project, and as word has leaked out about its existence, a Warner Music spokesman has only suggested that the conglom continually looks at a variety of technologies. Simultaneously, Sony Music has been linked to Warner in the exploration of the dual disc technol-ogy, but they, too, have been mum on any plans.

DVD-Audio offers high-resolution audio in stereo and surround as well as limited video playback on some videogame machines (Xbox and PSII). The versa-tility of DVD-A has had major label support for several years. The bonus of the dual disc is that a consumer can have a DVD and a soundtrack on a single disc.

For Warner, the move into DVDs is logical: Through its Strategic Marketing division, Warners catalog titles have been released in the fledgling DVD-Audio format. Catalog items from Neil Young and R.E.M. are the fall schedule for release as DVD-Audio.

Sony Music, on the other hand, has championed the SACD, which is sonically superior to standard CDs though comparable to DVD-Audio. Last week, Sony Legacy issued 15 Bob Dylan titles in SACD. Unlike the DVD, SACD requires a separate player.

Whether the talks of a merger with either EMI or BMG will have any effect on the introduction of dual discs remains to be seen. While Universal Music is launching this week its new price initiative to drive down CD prices to about $10 at retail, it’s unclear — and unlikely — that the dual disc would be priced similarly.

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