The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) announced that it will launch "a new consumer technology event," Digital Downtown (D2), 'to showcase the latest electronic lifestyle and workstyle products to residents and employees of Mahattan's Financial District." D2, which will be held from June 12–14 at the Winter Garden of the World Financial Center, will be open to the public, unlike the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
Physical sales of music plummeted at a rate that exceeded the sales growth of legal downloads in 2007, according to the IFPI. While global digital sales grew by 40% in 2007—representing about 10% of all music sold—IFPI figures suggest that CD sales in the US dropped by 19% (10.5% in the UK).
The shoes are now dropping all over the place. We have previously reported that Warner Music Group had dropped DRM on its downloads, joining Amazon.com's Download store. Ten days ago, we also reported that Sony BMG had announced it was dropping DRM, although it declined to release any distribution details at the time.
On January 4, BusinessWeek.comreported that Sony BMG Music Entertainment was dropping digital rights management (DRM) from "at least part of its collection." Sony BMG thus becomes the last of the big four music labels to do so—following Warner Music Group's example by less than a week. EMI and Universal Music Group began the stampede earlier in the year, pioneering DRM-free downloads with Amazon.com, among other partners.
Reference Recordings, the Bay Area-based audiophile label founded by John T. "Tam" Henderson in 1976, has adopted a unique approach to computer and music server playback. Later this month, the company will begin to market what they call "HRx" discs. Incompatible with conventional optical disc players, these are data discs containing WAV files intended for playback on computer-based music servers. Each HRx is a digit-for-digit copy of an original Reference Recordings 24-bit/176.4kHz digital master. The format is slated for audition during this week's CES. It can be heard in the TAD, FIM, and Magico rooms at the Venetian, as well as in On a Higher Note's Vivid/Luxman suite at the Mirage. Actual HRx discs will be available soon thereafter.
Wadia Digital, Inc. announced that it will debut the $349 iTransport iPod dock in Las Vegas at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) January 7, 2008. Certified by Apple as "Made for iPod®," the iTransport bypasses the iPod's internal D/A conversion to output an S/PDIF signal, "providing CD-quality resolution from full-resolution from file formats such as .WAV and [Apple Lossless]."
The world of loudspeaker aficionados has at one end most of us, who use multi-way box speakers of one kind of another; in the center are the lovers of panels, electrostatic, planar magnetics—it doesn't matter as much as the fact there is no box—and at the extreme other end are the lovers of high-sensitivity designs, where massive amounts of art, artifice, and loving care are applied to wrest full-range sound from a single drive-unit. Overcoming the daunting problems of getting a single drive-unit to work from 20Hz to 20kHz is, by those, felt to be outweighed by the benefits of not having a crossover circuit.
When we awoke on December 30, we found our in-boxes full of emails linking to The Washington Post's "Download Uproar: Record Industry Goes After Personal Use", which reported that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) were charging that Jeffrey and Pamela Howell's transfer of 2000 legally purchased recordings to his computer as MP3 files represented "unauthorized copies" of copyrighted recordings.
On December 27, Amazon.com and Warner Music Group announced that WMG's entire 2.9 million-song catalog would be available on Amazon's DRM-free, à la carte MP3 store—the first time the entire Warner catalog has been available online and the first time it has been offered sans DRM.
Starbucks, look out! ArkivMusic is on your tail. Just in time for the holidays, the Internet's major classical-music site has teamed up with the Canadian Brass to create ArkivMusic's first new recording, Christmas Tradition: Music for Brass and Organ. The CD, recorded for the Canadian Brass's own label, Opening Day (ODR 7345), includes music by composers who, over the years, have written some of the ensemble's favorite music and arrangements.
MTV published an end of the year review of the music business on December 17, "Madonna Ditches Label, Radiohead Go Renegade: The Year The Music Industry Broke." Month by month, it's a litany of bad tidings for the biz, from January 14, 2007, the day the Dreamgirls soundtrack hit number 1 on Billboard's pop charts with a scant 60,000 copies sold (lowest #1 ever) through December 3, 2007's announcements that Def Jam and EMI were laying off employees and Warner Music Group would cut executive bonuses (awww).
We received word December 21 that Ultralink/XLO Products executive vice-president Don Bouchard was injured in a "serious motorcycle accident in Texas." Bouchard is currently recovering in a Houston hospital, surrounded by his family, close friends, and business associates. Knowing Don, we're sure that's a packed hospital room.
One year after the Consumer Electronics Show switched venues from the Alexis Park to The Venetian/Sands Expo and Convention Center, leaving "renegade" exhibitors at T.H.E. Show's less costly St. Tropez venue isolated from the rest of the action, both shows are back stronger than ever. CES's "high-performance audio" exhibits in the Venetian's Tower Suites have increased to 173 from 122, while T.H.E. Show has expanded to a total of 90 exhibit rooms in the Alexis Park and the St. Tropez.