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November 14, 2002 at 4 PM

The Incredible Disappearing Disc

Finally, the music industry is figuring out intelligent ways to attract listeners without losing too much money. Atlantic Records will soon offer disposable DVDs with an eight-hour life span, made possible by a special dye that reacts to air.

Why is this so great? Because for a change, the music industry is recognizing that you can hook people's wallets more easily if you’ve hooked their ears first.

The major battle of this post-Napster era is the eager listener versus the concerned industry. In this corner, in the white trunks, are we, the listeners, who want good, new music and who don’t want to sacrifice $20 to one over-produced hit single and ten tracks of aural filler. And, in the green trunks, the reigning heavyweight champion: an industry that insists music cannot be “free” but charges too much, offers little to its lifeblood — the artists — and spends its resources marketing schlock people would never listen to, given the choice.

Perhaps I’m not the everyman, but my biggest musical fancy is discovering new artists. Maybe they are similar to what I already own, maybe not. But it’s hard to do when radio playlists are dictated by the industry and music stores generally don’t make it easy to find anything you don’t already know, unless its the latest Britina Aguspearsa or, when we’re lucky, the quality heavyweights, Beck and Radiohead.

The Internet offers me the opportunity to find new music all the time, but I still won’t buy an album by a new artist unless recommended by someone whose taste I really trust, or unless I’ve actually heard several songs.

But suppose I actually can obtain the disc for free and listen to it several times before swiping my debit card? Call me crazy, but it just might make everyone happy.

Comments

Reacts to air, eh? Okay, so if I seal off my living room, and create a vacuum, I can theoretically extend the life of this “disposable” DVD indefinitely…

At the very least, these disposables would be good for Astronauts looking for something to do whilst travelling to Mars.

I agree that this is an alternative to the lack of good things like Napster; however, it doesn’t seem very environmentally sound to add yet another disposable product.

Patrick | Nov. 14, 2002 — 6 PM

Excellent point. And just yesterday I was thinking, why can’t my portable CD player use the same heavy-duty rechargeable battery as the newer digital cameras? Is it just some sort of collusion between high-tech and Duracell? No doubt the plastics industry is enthralled to hear of disposable CDs.

What we need is the disposable, re-usable CD.

— Luke | Nov. 15, 2002 — 9 AM

It’s been pointed out elsewhere that these evaporating discs lack ordinary copy protection - so you can easily copy it to your hard drive, a blank CD, whatever, before it dies.

Bill | Nov. 15, 2002 — 10 PM

I guess places like United We Can (recycling depot in Vancouver’s downtown eastside) will also accept “expired” DVDs. $0.25 if expired, or an additional $0.10 per hour remaining on the disc.

And so back to the practicality of these disposable discs: what happens if your living room has an abnormal amount of air in it? Could the disc expire during mid-play? Would the speed at which the disc spins in the DVD player be a factor in the chemical reaction? Or perhaps if the DVD player has a fan (as found in some computers)? It seems like there are a lot of issues to be worked out before this truly is a Good Idea. In fact, I think I’ll even go as far as saying that this is riddled with inherent flaws, and I think it will be a big waste of time, money, and brainpower. How about these people instead focus on better things, like making DVDs and their players more resilient to scratchs?

Patrick | Nov. 15, 2002 — 10 PM

Previously: Please Standby

Subsequently: Photo of the Day: Sunset from Pont Jacques-Cartier

November 2002
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