MP3 audio files have quickly become the dominant format for downloading music over the Internet, and have just as quickly raised the ire of music labels and artists looking to protect their musical assets. For example, a petition signed by nearly 400 European recording artists (including Mstislav Rostropovich and Barbara Hendricks) was handed to the European Parliament last Tuesday by French composer Jean-Michel Jarre to protest lax copyright protections exacerbated by digital technology. The petition states, in part, "We want to use new digital technologies like the Internet to create and to deliver our music, but we will only feel confident doing so if we know that the laws are there to stop our works falling victim to pirates."
Editor's note: For months now, we've been reporting about the the problems and dilemmas created by audio formats such as MP3, which are often used to pirate and illegally distribute music over the Internet. Correspondent Leonid Korostyshevski offers a decidedly unique Russian spin on the situation. His previous stories are here and here. Photos were taken last week by Leonid Korostyshevski
Our first article this week is Illusions, Riddles, & Toys, in which Barry Willis explains what Zeno's paradox has to do with audio nirvana. "We audiofools face just such a riddle in our relentless pursuit of musical realism. I can hear you now: No, say it isn't so. Surely our technology is equal to the task. I'm sorry to tell you that it isn't, and probably never will be."
High-end audio legend Mark Levinson has departed Cello Film and Music Systems, the company he founded 15 years ago, and has formed a new business, Red Rose Music. The new company will break all performance barriers with both affordable and cost-no-object audio equipment, Levinson stated last week, and is already registered as a new business with the state of New York.
SANTIAGO DE MURCIA: ¡Jácaras! Paul O'Dette, Pat O'Brien, Steve Player, baroque guitars; Andrew Lawrence-King, harp, psaltery; Pedro Estevan, percussion Harmonia Mundi 907212 (CD). 1998. Robina G. Young, exec. prod.; John Hadden, prod., eng. DDD. TT: 78:21 Performance ***** Sonics *****
The axeman cometh, and cometh again. Seagram Company's Universal Music Group, now the world's largest music conglomerate after last year's $10+ billion acquisition of PolyGram NV, is decimating its ranks. The company has closed the doors of several formerly independent record labels, fired hundreds of employees, and plans to unload thousands more in the next few months. Employees and artists alike will soon find themselves without labels.
We've all heard about "Internet time"---that fraction of the "normal" time interval for a similar activity to occur on the Internet. As if to put an exclamation point on the concept of Internet time, the National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM) plans to make audio history March 10 at the 1999 NARM Convention coming up in Las Vegas.
Our first article this week is Space . . . the Final Frontier, in which J. Gordon Holt explains both why he feels the High End should abandon two-channel stereo, and why it is misguided in its choice of loudspeakers for stereo reproduction.
One of the classic problems with digital technology is what is known as the "cliff effect": when digital signals reach their limits, they don't fail gracefully like analog ones do---they go off a cliff and crash hard. Not only has the tendency for digital signals to exhibit their limitations noisily in the audio recording and playback environment been a problem for engineers and listeners, the effect on the digital broadcast industry has been tough to circumvent as well---until now.
This will be a huge year for the electronics industry, insiders are saying in the wake of the just-finished 1999 Consumer Electronics Show. This one "surpassed anything we've seen before," said Gary Shapiro, the president of the Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association, in a post-Show statement. "Our industry is driving the technologies that will define the digital age."