CULTURE

Two for the price of one: CDs now on sale with DVDs

The past year was revealing in terms of musical inventions, such as the Hi-5 girl band and singer Nino, going to «gold» via extensive television coverage. The most revealing thing, however, was witnessing how more and more television stations have joined the ranks and continue undaunted to churn out gold-plated successes, while simultaneously record companies squirm as sales drop and price reductions hit the stores. Reductions in the prices of CDs began on a global scale last October when the president of Universal in the USA called for a 30 percent drop. In Greece, the ball was started rolling by Haris Alexiou, who reduced the price of her new CD, but only at a specific outlet. Even though these moves met with a variety of reactions, record companies sought new, attractive ways to launch CDs onto the market. The result was the offer of a DVD together with a CD, in the same package, for the same price. In the year 2003 alone, there were 904 CD releases in Greece – an impressive number if one considers the slump in record sales. According to Petros Dragoumanos, who has compiled the «Catalog of Greek Recordings from 1950 to the Present,» 1,200 CDs (including singles) were released in 2002, 1,301 in 2001 and 1,009 in 2000. Of the 904 CDs released in 2003, 93 were singles. Of the remaining 811, 88 were compilations or rerecordings of older albums. Live music was also a focus last year, with 32 albums belonging to that category, but the trend that really dominated the market was DVD releases. It seems that everyone made a DVD in 2003: Dionysis Savvopoulos, Vassilis Papaconstantinou, Alkistis Protopsalti, Yiannis Kotsiras, Sakis Rouvas, Yiannis Ploutarchos and Notis Sfakianakis, to name a few. «The DVD was an expensive product until recently,» says Dragoumanos by way of explanation. «The interest, however, is due to the fact that it is sold together with the CD, as an offer. In a way, this entices buyers to purchase a product that they won’t get from bootleggers. They get two for the price of one.» CD singles are also facing a crisis of late, with 93 coming out in 2003, in contrast to 164 the year before. The difference lies only in the cost of recording, so buyers end up paying the same price for four to five songs that they would for 13 to 15. «Most singles are recorded at the expense of the artists, who, after recording, take the product to the company for production,» says Dragoumanos. «This, of course, is not the case for top-selling artists. Nevertheless, some 70 percent of artists work this way.» Furthermore, small recording companies never meet the cost of production. They want a ready-made product, which they then release. This led to another trend in 2003: Many artists cut their ties with recording companies and went solo. When Haris Alexiou opened her own company, Estia, many thought it was just a whim. Paraskevas Karasoulas opened Mikri Arktos with a view to attracting new talent, and the label Cantini, belonging to singer/songwriter duo Evanthia Reboutsika and Panayiotis Kalantzopoulos, proved that independent labels can create wonders. This does not mean that all Greek artists will open their own companies, but it does mean that they can produce their own CDs before giving them to a bigger company for distribution. Dionysis Tsaknis did this with his new album, «Mia Zoi Allou,» which he not only produced himself but is also on sale for just 12 to 13 euros.