Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Compact Disc Verses Digital

I read an interesting news item released today which reports that the American NPD's Consumer Tracking Of Consumers, aged 13 years and over in the USA, has released their findings on music buying habits. In the research, only physical Product and Digital Downloads not from Subscription Deals are included so this is looking at the war being waged by Compact Discs and Vinyl against the Internet driven Digital Downloads.

The Compact Disc represented 65% of all music purchases, the remaining 35% taken by the Digital Delivery System. Now that suggests at a glance that the CD is fighting back but the reality is that Digital Sales are increasing at between 15% and 20% while CD sales are falling by the same percentages, meaning in a year or two, both will hold 50% of the total music market.

Having been in the Industry (in New Zealand) a long time, I have a greater over-all view of things and I feel that the demise of the CD was a pre-determined fate. When Vinyl ruled, the Industry resisted the move from the 10" 78rpm Records to the then new, 7" 45rpm format. It took a very long time for the Industry to all be on the same page in relation to the disc size to use.

The Compact Disc, designed for Videos (DVD's) and increased Data Storage, was embraced by the Music Industry very rapidly. In New Zealand the change across the whole Industry was just one Weekend. Last week their released on Vinyl, the following Monday, all New Zealand Record Companies issued all new titles on CD and Cassette Tapes only.

Now look at the Industry's views and resistance to the Digital Format. They hate it, they are still fighting it and yet they ensured it's arrival by switching from Vinyl to CD. A CD could be placed in a Computer and copied, a Vinyl Record could not. Of course now there are Turntables with USB Plugs readily available at a reasonable price.

Instead of fighting it, the Music Industry should embrace it fully as it does have some excellent advantages like eliminating the need to manufacture thousands of Discs for unproven Artists. By signing a new Artist and recording them for Digital Delivery, the Companies can promote the Artist on the Internet and if, and when, the Song (Single) or Album reaches a pre-determined sales level, issue the Hard Copies, knowing the Artist is already known and liked by the General Publc and hence, the CD will sell well.

Imagine the cost saving for EMI alone who introduced a swag of new artists a few years ago to have just 13% actually succeed, saleswise. That's an 87% manufacturing cost savings per year.

Personally, I hope EMI are successful with their return to Vinyl as it really is the best medium for music. The frequency range of sound is far greater, adding warmth, depth and 'colour' to the recording. The frequency range of a CD is almost half that of Vinyl so what you get is a cold, lifeless but clinically perfect performance. The simplest way to experience the difference is listen to the same recording on the two mediums, the CD first, then the Vinyl.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Hi There,

Welcome to the Treelabel Blog. My name is Dene Kellaway and I live in Wellington, New Zealand. I own and operate the original Tree Records, established in 1969 and Incorporated with registered Trade Marks in March 1970.

My career started as a Paste-Up Artist for a Litho Printing Company and when I was given my first Magazine Project to make up, I was hooked on the whole process. Needless to say I soon wanted to make up my own magazine and did. It was called "NZ Pop Scene" and was the first non Record Industry owned publication dedicated to pop music and it featured HMV's Rochelle Vincent on the first cover. For those of you unfamiliar to the NZ Music Scene of the Sixties, she had a huge hit called "My Boyfriend Got A Beatle Haircut".

In 1966 I was approched at the Rolling Stones Press Conference by the Editor of the new opposition Magazine, "NZ Teen Beat", and asked if I'd like his job as he wanted to returns to Sales. I agreed and the two magazines merged.

For reasons only they know, The Publishers closed it down in 1968 and I replaced it with a fortnightly Tabloid called "Groove". It's 'fame' reached as far as the New York Public Library and they started receiving copies of every Issue while I was the Owner / Editor.

Enter one Collin Morris who I had known since in my roll as the Editor of "Teen Beat". He was now into the Blues and started a Blues Magazine. He wanted to record several local Blues Bands and offer them on vinyl as a Subscription lure. I agreed to 'help' him produce the recordings only but found Frank Douglas and myself doing all the work. At the end of the recording session I was left to pay for it all so I suddenly found myself not just the Producer of two New Zealand original blues records, but the Owner as well.

John McCready at Philips offered me a Distrinution Deal and Tree Records was 'born' in May 1969. I released four 45rpm Singles that year and the successes lead to the four major Record Companies deciding there was a 'conflict of interest' and I was forced to decide - Magazine or Record Label. I chose the latter and 40 years on, here I am, an International Label, selling well on the Digital Downloading market and with a 5 year Distribution and Marketing Contract with AmpHead/The Orchard.

This Blog has been set up to talk to you all about not just what Tree Records is doing, but what and how I feel about developments in the Music Industry. I will also explain in more detail, the Tree Platform - the business side of how Tree works - as it's quite different to the mainstream and both Artists' and the General Public's conception of how it all works.

- Dene Kellaway