Last week, BMG Entertainment, the music and entertainment division of Bertelsmann AG, revealed that it will join several other major labels (see previous stories EMI and Universal) by bringing its own digital downloads to the Internet this September. The company says that it will start with approximately 50 songs and 50 complete albums, to be made available via several retail Web outlets at prices ranging from $1.98 to $3.49 per song and from $9.98 to $16.98 per album.
The Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) will soon move into Phase II of its evaluation of digital audio watermarking, following listening tests conducted in early July at Sony's Whitfield Street Studios in London and administered by Sony VP of engineering Malcolm Davidson. A soon-to-be-published report from Paul Jessop of the International Federation of Phonograph Industries reveals that the participants in the tests—almost all of them audio-industry professionals or journalists—averaged just slightly better than 50% in their abilities to detect the watermarks.
In an effort to move their businesses into cyberspace, record labels and audio content distributors are still experimenting with their online formulas. Key to the new economic models for selling music over the Net is this question: Would you rather pay a monthly subscription fee to download music, or pay for music track by track? According to market researcher Gartner Group, sites that plan to sell music via the subscription model should seriously reconsider.
Chicago's Maxwell Street district is considered by many to be the birthplace of Chicago blues. But the old neighborhood is in danger of permanently losing some of its historic buildings, thanks to expansion plans by the University of Illinois at Chicago. The potential loss of the neighborhood has sparked protests by a coalition of blues musicians, including a hunger strike by 69-year-old APO Records artist Jimmie Lee Robinson.
Audiophiles aren't taking to the streets just yet, but John Atkinson is more than a little riled about the proposed watermarking of SACD and DVD-Audio recordings. In this month's "As We See It," "Watermarking: the Devil's Work!," JA exhorts the audiophile masses to rise up in protest.
E-wisdom holds that one of the big advantages about retailing on the Internet is that, once a comany is online, the entire world of consumers is only a few mouse clicks away. This concept holds up much better in theory than in practice. Language barriers, shipping costs, and import/export red tape (such as agreements controlling which countries a retailer can even sell a product line to) have all made the reality less than ideal for e-merchants.
Andy Payor hurls a briefcase full of engineering and scientific mumbo-jumbo at in an attempt to justify the $73,750 price of the latest and greatest edition of his Rockport Technologies turntable, but really—isn't this all-air-driven design a case of analog overkill? After all, defining a turntable's job seems rather easy: rotate the record at an exact and constant speed, and, for a linear tracker, put the stylus in play across the record surface so that it maintains precise tangency to a radius described across the groove surface. By definition, a pivoted arm can't do that, so the goal there is to minimize the deviation. That's basically it. Right?
Want to do some audiophile shopping and do some good for others? The Cable Company, along with several manufacturers and audiophile publications, have set up a program by which they offer to donate up to 10% of August purchases to CARE and the International Rescue Committee, these contributions to be used to assist the worldwide disaster-relief efforts of those humanitarian organizations.
When a manufacturer makes extraordinary claims about a product, the result is sometimes an extraordinary review. That's what happened when Jonathan Scull examined the Richard Gray's Power Company 400S AC line conditioner last June. His report raised a chorus of reader and industry reactions, all of them included here along with some additional unpublished observations.
After a May 10 announcement from the Federal Trade Commission that it had negotiated a settlement with the music industry's "Big Five" over a controversial pricing policy, enterprising private attorneys wasted little time initiating class-action lawsuits (1, 2) against them. By early August, some reports placed the number of suits nationwide at more than 100.