Video discs not only represent a natural area for growth for record merchandisers, according to NARM executive director Joe Cohen, but also a potentially great threat for retailers if the inevitable consumer acceptance of video discs is ignored.
"Obviously the video disc lends itself to our industry beautifully," says Cohen. "We are not only the most capable industry for distributing home video entertainment, but we're the best industry in the world to market this kind of entertainment. It's a natural for our business; I don't think there's any question about it."
But Cohen warns that if retailers don't exploit this new type of entertainment as soon as it becomes economically feasible, they will run the risk of losing their entire business.
"It has been said that the railroad industry thought of itself as being in the railroad business instead of the transportation business. So when airplanes came along the railroads were destroyed. If we in this business think we're in the music business, instead of the entertainment business, we're doomed.
"We sell entertainment," explains Cohen. "The customer thinks of the record store as a place to find his software entertainment. It's clear that the future is home video entertainment; it's just a matter of time. That's why the manufacturers owe it to their customers to begin approaching artists about developing product for this medium and merchandisers should be planning how to handle it, where to put it."
Cohen believes that video discs demand a new type of product from musical artists beyond merely recording concert performances.
"I don't think we can tape concerts and think that's going to satisfy the consumer," notes the NARM chief. "There will have to be concept albums, recordings that merge visual entertainment and music. And there's no reason this merged art form can't be brought into the home."
But while Cohen is concerned about proper utilization of this new art form by both artists and merchandisers, he is also enthusiastic about its potential.
"What I have seen in the video disc machine is excellent," Cohen reports. "The quality of the reproduction is beautiful, the sound is tremendous and it can be used over and over because of its laser operation.
"The membership of NARM," concludes Cohen, "is tremendously interested in video discs."