Amongst a series of changes proposed by the CSS are to 'allow a new two-track CD single format, which is expected to sell at a lower price, to be eligible for the charts?, and ' to liberalise content restrictions on the existing CD single format'
It has been with a sense of inevitable frustration that the industry has acknowledged that the single format has, over the years, become little more than a loss-leader promotional tool for fuller-length releases. The OCC's recent investigation into the Future Of The Charts, known as the FOTC project - spawned an 80 page report compiled on the advice of 'over 100 executives, at all levels of the Music Industry'.
The FOTC report also recommends an evaluation of download data information with a view to 'pav[ing] the way for legal download chart information.'
The new, two-track, lo-cost CD single, however, must not exceed 10 minutes of playing time, and be packaged in standard jewel cases with 'no free gifts or extras'. Bearing in mind these restrictions, the concept of the added-value CD Maxi single thereforehas been delineated in more detail than ever before.
As of January 1st, 2004, the CD Maxi can contain the following extras to entice the consumer:
The current CD Single maximum of three tracks will in addition be able to feature remixes of those tracks 'so long as they remain within the currently-acknowledged time limit of 20 minutes'; singles which solely feature a lead track plus multiple remixes of the same track will be able to run for up to 40 minutes; the current limit of one video will increase to two and weblinks are to be allowed on the CD for the first time.
It is felt that these changes are overdue, not least by Richard Woolton, chairman of the OCC, who said:
'Many people in the industry have long advocated the need for an inexpensive two-track CD single. These new rule changes should facilitate the revitalisation of our singles market.' With moves in the direction of verifiable download-based chart being taken in earnest with the establishment of a new Download Chart Committee, the singles market looks set to regroup following a disappointing few years of sales which some have attributed to the plethora of illegal downloading of tracks from the Internet.
All the CSC's recommendations, however, must be ratified by the councils of the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), record retailer representatives BARD, as well as the OCC board itself.