Thursday, May 03, 2007

It's the semi-annual return of the CD-burning booth story

In the same way that you could seldom get through six weeks of John Craven-era Newsround without the bejumpered one predicting that schools were on the point of offering School Breakfasts, without it ever happening to anyone you ever met, music and technology journalists love to announce every so often that the coming thing is booths - yes, booths - where you can burn your own mix to a CD.

The booths are once again being touted, this time as a result of the National Association of Recording Merchandisers meeting in Chicago, where (not for the first time) the booth has been proposed as the saviour of record shops:

New machines, available from at least five different companies and now in operation in more than 150 record stores, Starbucks, book stores and big-box electronics stores across the country, allow consumers to pick 15 or so singles from various artists and burn them onto a CD.

George Daniels, who has run George’s Music Room in Chicago for 38 years, installed one such machine, the Disc-Go Digital Studio, at his store.

“I love the idea of this machine because it puts me back in the singles business,” said Daniels, who started his store with $100 and 100 45-rpm singles. “It will add something new to our store. A lot of people are willing to pay $1 or $2 for a song, but not $15 for a CD.”

It was hard to accept these record-it-yourself boxes were a good idea in the late 90s, but at least they made some sort of sense: imagine, you could just choose a mix of tracks you like, and then burn them onto a compact disc to take away. But in 2007, we're befuddled as to who would actually quit iTunes, close down their computer, take a bus into town, go into a shop, stand in a booth for ten minutes working up a playlist, hang around another five minutes for the CD to burn, then take a bus back home to achieve the same result they could have managed in front of their computer anyway?

We can just about see the novelty value of sticking a booth like this in a coffee shop, where it might keep people busy while they're sipping a latte - but as an answer to people buying digitally for record shops? It's not just a dead horse, it's like a zombie horse which has had its head cut off.

Where would they find a market of people who distrust technology enough not to download and burn at home, but are comfortable enough to do it in a store?

To be fair, we did once get to make our own butter and toast some bread one morning at school. But it hardly counted as a school breakfasts programme.


5 comments:

Franco said...

To be fair, for people who don't have a computer or don't know how to download and burn CDs, this could be a winner. Somebody must be buying the full CDs and this is a way to cut out all the crap.

And how do kids these days make mixtapes without cassettes?

karlt said...

...take a bus into town, go into a shop, ... CD to burn, then take a bus back home

Presumably we won't take the bus: we'll be in our personal flying car, or use our jet-pack to get to the shop.

simon h b said...

Fair point, Franco, but how big a market would that be? I presume that that would only really include people who don't like fiddling around on computers in the first place - and how many of them are going to want to fiddle around with a computer in a shop instead?

Karl... City of The Domes! City of the Domes!

Anonymous said...

I was in George's last week and tried this thing out. It's actually pretty cool for those of us that don't want to mess with DRM or doing it at home. And there was a line on both of the burning stations while I was in....

kim kardashian said...


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