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What is ‘Up’ with digital download only releases? Pixar’s Toy Story 3 deserves better

June 17, 2010

By Erin V.

Last year, five remarkable scores were nominated at the Academy Awards.  Avatar, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Hurt Locker, Sherlock Holmes, and Up.  Four of those got a CD release.  One did not.  Last year, Disney made the [unfortunate] decision to release the score from Up to digital download only.  In all the Up score received 10 wins and another 4 nominations throughout it’s award circuit run.

The real irony here though, is that Michael Giacchino – the composer for Up – has publically stated that he likes to record analog instead of digital, because of the sound.  And it’s his score that goes to mp3/mp4 only…

That decision was made back when the film was released – May 2009 – and it came under fire by many, especially fans of Pixar.  But when Oscar night rolled around, and Up took the title of Best Original Score, it seemed even more ludicrous.  The winner of the category can’t even be bought in stores.

Many argued that it was a practically score only album – and wouldn’t sell enough to warrant a full on physical release.  Digital would do just fine.  But labels such as Varèse Sarabande release score albums all the time – and they do sell.

But that point – score only – just went out the window this year.  Toy Story 3 – one of the most anticipated movies of the summer from all age groups (see graphic),

with a score and songs by Randy Newman, is not getting a physical CD release – again digital download only.  Is this the way Disney does things now?  No.  The Princess and the Frog – also scored by Randy Newman – got a physical release December of last year.  So what is this?  Is this the treatment of Pixar’s soundtrack releases?  I should hope not.  I personally have never bought digital downloads – I prefer the physical CD that I can hold.  Harddrives can go, so if you buy this way, back stuff up.  Also, they take up memory that some people don’t have in their computers, and they don’t have the same feel or organization.  Sure, you can burn them to a disc, but it is not the same.  To me, it’s like buying a book online for a Kindle or iPod/iPad, and then printing it out and stapling it together in lue of the real thing.

I don’t use a digital player all that often.  Usually, I pop a CD in a player while at my desk, or reading a book.  I see no need to keep on filling a digital player – especially since I don’t really mix tracks (I usually listen to one soundtrack all the way through).  If there are a few songs I do want on a digital player, then those ones I can put into the computer for myself.

But what you might be thinking is; ‘isn’t this is a preference?’  And you’d be right.  I can buy and listen to it digitally if I want to (provided I ignore the quality difference in some cases).  But what about people who can’t?  Take Up last year for example.  That was a movie enjoyed by a wide audience – including seniors.  There are many people, particularly in that age group, who do not own computers, nor have any intention to.  They might want to go to the store, buy the disc, and put it in their player – but cannot.   Sure, a child or grandchild could download and burn it for them.  But that removes independence – and besides… is it also not sharing it between too many people after it’s only been bought once?  For many people, a digital file doesn’t feel ‘physical’, and subconsciously, there is not as much of a problem to upload it to the internet and ‘share it freely,’ even if just to share between friends.

I won’t buy a digital version of the Up score – nor Toy Story 3.  I would love to have them, but I don’t agree with the digital only release, so will not give into it.  Stubborn?  Yes, you could say that is.  The difference is, I wouldn’t go the illegal downloading route either – as I’ve read some people might in protest.  Instead, I opted with Up to buy the piano solo and play it myself, as well as hear the full orchestral score in the movie.  I plan on doing the same with TS3.  It is unjust to not release the CD.  Many people want it.  Many people would buy it.  And because of this decision, there will be people, who because of reasons outside of their control, will not have access to the wonderful music that is Up and Toy Story 3.

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