It's a brave new audio world: Coinciding with last week's release of Medeski, Martin & Wood's latest work, The Dropper, to retailers' shelves as a polycarbonate-and-aluminum CD, Liquid Audio announced that the title was simultaneously being made available as a full-album digital download. Liquid reports that this is the first time a Blue Note title has been released in a digital format at the same time as its physical release.
Five years after opening a research office in Moscow, BMG Entertainment has launched an affiliate called BMG Russia OOO, which will work from the capital. The intent is to develop the Russian market for BMG products, discover and sign new musical talent—and combat piracy.
A group of researchers has claimed success at cracking four digital audio watermarking technologies presented in a challenge by the Secure Digital Music Initiative in September. The claim has been denied by David Leibowitz, chairman of Verance Corporation, creator of one of the challenged watermarks. SDMI has made no public statement on the claim, and has resolved to remain silent until all 447 submitted hacks are evaluated.
John Atkinson points out that "a much-touted benefit of DVD-Audio and Super Audio CD is that these new media can store digital audio data extending one or more octaves higher in frequency response than the capabilities of the CD." But is this a difference that makes a difference? Atkinson examines the mounting pile of data in What's Going On Up There? Is there recorded life above 20k? The answer may surprise you.
Artists' groups are celebrating what they hope will be more than a symbolic victory over the recording industry in the wake of legislation signed by President Clinton the last week of October. Known as "The Works Made for Hire and Copyright Corrections Act," the repeal negates a provision that was inserted into last year's "Satellite Home Viewer Act" at the insistence of the Recording Industry Association of America, designating musical recordings as "works for hire." Such a designation catergorizes a musical recording as a commodity that can be purchased at a fixed price, such as a table built by a furniture craftsman, rather than as a performance subject to syndication and royalty fees.
A much-touted benefit of DVD-Audio and Super Audio CD is that these new media can store digital audio data extending one or more octaves higher in frequency response than the capabilities of the CD. In the August issue's "Industry Update" (pp.27-29), Paul Messenger reported on an add-on supertweeter from English manufacturer Tannoy that would extend the ultrasonic response of loudspeakers so they can reproduce this new information. Putting to one side for now the issue of whether a loudspeaker really needs to be able to reproduce frequencies that no one can hear, the subject of how much ultrasonic content is present in real musical signals is still a contentious one.
I've long been a fan of Naim electronic gear, and have used it for many years. I also have admiration and respect for the company's uncompromisingly consistent and determinedly individualistic approach to the various tasks and problems of loudspeaker design. But my enthusiasm for Naim speakers has long been tempered by a feeling that mechanical aspects of the design are given priority over acoustics and styling.
The Recording Industry Association of America has recently been getting press ink by the bucketful for its defense of the music business against the perils of the Internet. But the Future of Music Coalition is urging the US Copyright Office to be wary of efforts by the RIAA to establish itself as the sole and exclusive collection agent for digital performance royalties for sound recordings. Instead, the Coalition has proposed that an independent body would be a more appropriate vehicle to collect and distribute these and other monies, including Audio Home Recording Act of 1992 royalties.
The online music world has been hit by one jolt after another as the record labels go after anyone they can slap with the "music pirate" label. In response, the e-sharks smell blood and are circling. Internet music-distribution company EMusic sent out a press release recently making the assertion that "now that Napster and MP3.com are both on shaky legal ground, many downloadable-music fans are going to be looking for compelling, 'legitimate' alternatives."
It may still be a trickle, but at least a little music relief has reached the parched throats of audiophiles awaiting the arrival of DVD-Audio discs. Last week saw the announcement that Aaron Neville's latest CD release will also hit stores as a multichannel DVD-A on Immergent Records on October 24. This week sees the announcement that another recording legend, Willie Nelson, will soon take the plunge.