It's mating season for entertainment-industry giants. Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group are in talks to develop a jointly operated subscription music service for the Internet, according to a report the two companies issued in the first week of May. The news followed by only a week an announcement of a possible merger between record clubs Columbia House and BMG Music Club.
"Here's somebody who just loves to sing." Over the telephone, Peter Guralnick sounds sad, incredulous. "But he's unable at the end of his life to force himself into the recording studio—the fear of completion, fear of exposing your untrammeled idea to execution. What a terrible thing to lose that ability, that faith in yourself."
No artist in the history of sound recordings has a more confused recorded legacy than Elvis Presley. Thanks to several generations' worth of ruthless avarice by his label, the constant machinations and eventual fire sale by his manager, Col. Tom Parker, and his own pathetic sloth, due in part by a 20-year addiction to prescription drugs, Elvis's recorded catalog is an absolute disaster: cut and pasted, issued and reissued as both budget and full-priced collections, exploited beyond all recognition. Keeping track of Elvis's catalog is one of, if not the most, labyrinthine discography in rock 'n' roll history. When all the foreign issues and reissues of his work are taken into account, it is, (speaking from recent experience) an endeavor which severely tasks the human capacity for tedium.
Reader Bill Huey reminded me recently that I'd promised to cover pre-War buildings that have hot and neutral electrical service but no ground. Why the rush? Bill was about to move into just such a dwelling. (Hey, never mind the furnace and the roof—what about my stereo?!)
Sometimes you have to wonder why big corporations gobble up small speaker companies. Most such firms are built by individualist entrepreneurs chasing an elusive dream—an up-close and personal thing that is the antithesis of the corporate mentality. That's why speaker companies are so often named after the founder.
In hopes of stoking the multichannel DVD-Audio engine, Burr-Brown announced last week the PCM1604 audio digital-to-analog converter, which they describe as a high-performance, 6-channel audio DAC featuring 24-bit capability and 192kHz sampling, for use in a "wide variety of multichannel audio applications."
The roller-coaster fortunes of MP3.com took a downturn April 28, when US district judge Jed S. Rakoff found in favor of the Recording Industry Association of America in its copyright-violation suit against Internet music site MP3.com. Investors in the once–high-flying startup immediately began unloading shares of the company's stock, which had dropped 40% by the end of the trading day.
It's been an up-and-down week for consumer-electronics companies, as revealed by recent earnings reports surfacing around the globe. First, the bad news: Sony reports that its profits fell 32% in the latest fiscal year, and cites the strong yen for depressing the value of the consumer-electronics and entertainment company's overseas earnings.
Progress toward a working digital radio technology took a big step forward in April with the addition of Lowpass Prototype Inc. to the development team. According to an April 27 press release, USA Digital Radio, Inc., a privately held digital radio technology company owned by the nation's largest radio broadcasters, has added the manufacturer of radio-frequency systems for radio and television transmission to its coalition to develop and commercialize digital AM and FM radio.