Multimedia: Music business faces big shake-up

NEXT TIME you want to listen to Beethoven or Bon Jovi why not watch them as well?

As television radically reduced the importance of radio, a new CD technology adding video to CD could eventually make music-only discs obsolete.

Video CD allows up to 75 minutes of video to be stored on a CD-type disc. The system allows you to go to a track and listen to the piece of music you want and see the concert (classical or rock) or the music video or whatever. The picture quality is slightly better than VHS tape but the sound quality is as good as normal CD.

The disadvantage is that these discs will not play on ordinary CD players. They play on a CD-I player, on specially adapted computers and on some games machines.

The market is about to expand rapidly. Most leading consumer electronics companies are planning to release Video CD players. Panasonic has already shown a Video CD system built into a mini hi-fi system which will probably be the first unit on sale in the UK later this year.

As yet there are only half a dozen music titles available for CD-I which will play on most Video CD systems. (The titles will be sold in true Video CD format within a couple of months.) EMI will bring out five titles next month and other leading record labels have announced plans to release discs.

Polygram, which has provided most of the music titles for CD-I, sees great potential for Video CD music titles. Peter Olliff, Director of Media and Technical Services, says: 'We are not reinventing the wheel. People like CDs and people understand them. I think people will see this as a neat upgrade, not something completely new.'