Al Bergamo recalls that when he was being interviewed for the top job at MCA's new distribution arm, MCA Inc. president Sid Sheinberg tried to convince him to join the company by pulling out all the stops - including DiscoVision.
"Even though I realized it was a great opportunity, the thing that really convinced me to come to MCA was DiscoVision," says Bergamo, president of MCA Distributing Corp. "I've been in the electronics and records industry for more than 20 years, and this is the most exciting thing I've ever seen."
Although DiscoVision is currently being marketed through video hardware dealers, Bergamo says the disc will be available in record stores by late 1979 or early 1980.
"We feel that long-term marketing of video discs will be through our record accounts," he says. "All policies and pricing will be geared toward our customers. The discs are packaged like two - record album sets, so they should fit well into their existing display racks."
Another advantage of video discs, according to Bergamo, is that they will be released year round - unlike hit records, which manufacturers release during certain peak selling periods.
Taking Up the Slack
"I think the video disc is going to take up a lot of the slack for our customers," he explains. "The nature of the business will be such that you can bring out a new video disc in January, March or June and get the same penetration that you would if you brought it out in October. Historically, that is not the way the record business is run.
"So I think DiscoVision is going to give our accounts an item they can make a profit on if they really understand what it means to their business. They will become a total entertainment center, which is what the entire industry is talking about today."
However, Bergamo feels the real beneficiaries of the impact of DiscoVision will be the artists. It would be ideal, he points out, for artists who are unable to tour regularly for one reason or another.
"Take an artist like Carole King," says Bergamo. "She can't tour because she throws up every time she goes on stage. DiscoVision could be her tour; she won't have to go out on the road. There are a lot of artists like that; Elton John, for example, dislikes touring."
Bergamo sees DiscoVision as the perfect vehicle for exposing artists and expanding record sales. "The advantage for the record company is that they can pitch their artist with pictures as well as sound," he notes. "I think it's going to help the artist more than anyone, because it's going to put them in the home under a unique situation, which should spin off into record sales."
While he stresses the vast potential that DiscoVision holds for the record industry, Bergamo says there are some important questions still to be resolved, including artist royalties.
"The problem right now with bringing artists abroad is: How are you going to pay them for it? Do you put them on a royalty rate? Do you put them on a one-time fee? Are they going to accept that? There are a lot of questions still to be answered, but we're learning every day and I'm sure we're heading in the right direction."
Also still to be determined, Bergamo says, is what combination of music and DiscoVision will be the most appealing to the consumer. "We feel that for it to be attractive in the home, there has to be more involved than just the artist playing guitar and singing," he says. "And I'm not sure that adapting a concert is the answer.
"Maybe DiscoVision should be greatest hits type of entertainment," Bergamo continues. "I'd rather see Neal Diamond do 'Hot August Night,' or have Olivia Newton-John sing her greatest songs with the right special effects than watch an artist in the studio."
In sum, Bergamo believes that DiscoVision will compliment the record industry in many ways. "We at MCA have to contribute something to the industry if we want to be the best," he says. "And I think this is it. DiscoVision is going to expand record sales, and it's going to enhance the image of the artist."