Rocker and multimedia maven Todd Rundgren sat in the lounge of the Sunset Strip's House of Blues for a press event staged to herald the many interactive opportunities available to modern entertainers. As it turned out, he also had some ironic news to share.
A technological hang-up has conspired to delay the release of his most recent recording, even as he begins a three-month tour to support it.
``The Individualist,'' Rundgren's newest musical project, was to have hit U.S. stores this week in a CD-plus only format. Rundgren, a longtime computer and video aficionado and these days big into interactive entertainment, has woven a visual wrap to the musical recording for viewing on CD-ROM. He has pledged to sell it for the usual compact disc price of about $16.99.
However, the interactive artist explained, when it lingered on until last week before technical standards for the CD-plus format could be finalized, the original release date became impossible. Now, he's forced to go the first month or two of his concert schedule with nothing new in stores for fans to buy except pricey Japanese-import versions of ``The Individualist.'' Rundgren releases all of his recordings first in that market, due to contractual stipulations.
``We can guarantee (the U.S. CD-plus release) within two months,'' he said. ``We just don't have an exact day.''
But if the problem arose from Rundgren's posture squarely on the leading edge of the techno future, so too springs an interim solution. Rundgren has arranged to release all album cuts on the CompuServe online service, so fans can download ``The Individualist'' for cyberspace listening _ albeit not in CD-quality sound _ until the CD-plus is released.
Rundgren said it would be too ``ugly and messy'' to reverse the CD-plus-only decision and release an audio CD until the CD-plus version can be manufactured. Retailers would be particularly hard-pressed to deal with two versions of the same product, he added, and the pricing of each product would have to be readdressed.
Rundgren has just begun his tour in support of ``The Individualist.'' He was scheduled to perform at the House of Blues on Monday eveningand tonight.
The afternoon press event was staged to spotlight Rundgren's many involvements with companies involved in interactive technology. A frequent speaker on interactive topics at multimedia conventions and trade shows, Rundgren has creative alliances with CompuServe and Time-Warner Cable, and does promotional spots for Apple Computer, whose equipment he uses for graphics and other projects.
Those companies were on hand at the House of Blues, with product demonstrations including some of Rundgren's work for Time-Warner Cable's Full Service Network, the interactive television service now under development in Orlando. Rundgren is developing graphic interfaces and musical components for an interactive music channel to be part of the FSN offerings, and is lining up musical artists and catalogues.
Companies with whom Rundgren has partnered for his last interactive-audio CD, ``No World Order,'' and for ``The Individualist'' also were part of the press expo, including Electronic Arts, Phillips Interactive and ION. And Rundgren teamed with CompuServe representatives to stage electronic chat sessions with press and fans nationwide via that online service, for whom he is a consultant.