Will 2009 go down as the year in which film music finally rounded the corner and turned its back on the once almighty CD? For new film music, the signs certainly point in that direction.
Disney released scores from two major films—Michael Giacchino’s sure-to-be-Oscar-nominated (and possibly win) UP and Alan Silvestri’s A CHRISTMAS CAROL—as download-only releases. Yet Randy Newman’s THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG was released on CD. If rumors are to be believed, purely orchestral scores for the studio, such as Giacchino’s and Silvestri’s, will no longer be released on CD. The fact that UP is already making the rounds on a “For Your Consideration” disc for Oscar voters (with more music than was offered digitally) only makes the situation more irritating.
Carter Burwell’s score for WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE was only released digitally while Karen O’s songs for the film were released on CD. Marvin Hamlisch returned to film scoring with his critically acclaimed score for Steven Soderbergh’s THE INFORMANT!, available in the U.S. only digitally or as part of Amazon’s “CD On Demand” service. But a commercial CD is available in the U.K. through Silva Screen.
And this just skims the surface…
Milan Records has been releasing new scores digitally and now plans on re-releasing over 100 classic soundtracks only in the digital format. Lakeshore Records is converting purely to digital. Even Varese Sarabande began releasing certain new scores such as Brian Tyler’s THE KILLING ROOM as limited edition CDs or as iTunes exclusives (like Javier Navarrete’s CRANKS).
For those of us who prefer the CD format, whether for sonic reasons, for the tactile sensation and physical “permanence” (like me), or some other reason, I believe the handwriting is on the wall. A year ago I would have argued differently. But, like the publishing world, the music industry is facing some major changes, and film music probably doesn’t sell enough copies to justify weathering out that storm, if it can be weathered in the first place.
Will film music totally convert to digital? I don’t think so, at least not with older scores from FSM, Intrada, the Varese Sarabande CD Club, and others. If the only option to hear the music at all is to have a digital release, then I’ll bite the bullet and download it. But I don’t like it and the situation depresses me.
This is a conversation that has been raging for quite a while and will continue as we start the next decade. I wish it weren’t the case. But the cynic in me says otherwise.
What are your thoughts? Do you agree/disagree? Does it even matter?