San Francisco-based cyberco Digital On Demand is attempting to make record stores more attractive to next-gen music shoppers this month with the North American retail launch of space-age music downloading kiosks called Digital Distribution Machines. DOD is counting on tech-savvy teens to glom on to the new distribution method and spread the word to ensure its success. ‘The 15 to 24 demo is our most important target group,’ says Alma Castillo, assistant director of marketing at RedDotNet, the DOD-owned network providing cable connection for the project. ‘They’re the biggest consumers of music out there, and they’re comfortable with new technology.’
The high-tech concept works like this: shoppers key in the album title they want on the kiosk’s console, and the music immediately begins downloading onto the format of choice-CD, DVD and MiniDisc will initially be available. It takes about 15 minutes to download a full-length album along with original cover art and linear notes. Prices will be on par with regular CDs, running between US$14 and US$16 on average.
Sony Music has lent support to the launch, providing 4,000 titles from its catalog for download. EMI has also jumped on board, and DOD was finalizing deals with several indie lables at press time. The kiosks launch this month at music chains Wherehouse Music, Trans World Entertainment and Virgin Megastores, as well as at mass merchants like Wal-Mart, Kmart and Target.
The DOD initiative was set up to combat the problem of shrinking stock at record stores. Roughly 30% of shoppers are leaving stores empty-handed because the albums they want are not in stock. This lack of selection has led many consumers to embrace the convenience (mail delivery to your door) and variety that’s offered by on-line distributors like CDnow and Amazon.com.