Issues surrounding the music industry are heating up, and most stories revolve around the record labels, musicians, congress, consumers, and music pirates. Often lost in the noise is the importance of another major player in the business: the technical folks who make recorded music happen.
"You'd be hard-pressed to find a company more protective of its reputation than Krell," says Wes Phillips, as he heads off to evaluate the Krell KAV-300cd CD player. WP ponders whether that reputation is still intact as the company tries to save its customers some money.
DVD-Audio proponents, ranging from record labels execs and mastering engineers to CE manufacturers, staged a press event on August 9 at Dolby Labs in Los Angeles in the hopes of rekindling interest in their format, which has been quietly trying to launch for the last year or so. Warner Bros Records has gone so far as to call this current effort a "re-launch", but after spending over four hours with the DVD-A folks, this reporter thinks there's a good chance we may be seeing yet another official launch once most of the current issues (detailed below) are sorted out.
The music industry's ongoing copyright and royalty battle took a refreshing turn Wednesday, August 7, when EMI Group PLC filed suit against AOL Time Warner, Inc. over the unpaid use of songs from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer movies. Filed in US Court for the Southern District of New York, the suit seeks unspecified monetary damages and an injunction barring AOL Time Warner from playing songs from MGM classics such as Singin' in the Rain and The Wizard of Oz.
"My god. This was better than any hi-fi I had ever experienced—I actually had Sergei Rachmaninoff in the room, playing Mendelssohn just for me. I am not ashamed to say that I wept." I wrote those words in the January 2001 Stereophile, about hearing a piano-roll transcription of Rachmaninoff performing Mendelssohn's Spinning Song (Op.67 No.34) on a Bösendorfer Imperial 290SE reproducing piano. I was in the middle of recording Robert Silverman's cycle of Beethoven piano sonatas at the Maestro Foundation in Santa Monica, where there just happened to be a floppy disk with Wayne Stahnke's transcription of the Rachmaninoff for the Bösendorfer mechanism, which Stahnke invented.
It's been, as Bette Davis might say, a bumpy ride, but Genesis says it is back as a designer and manufacturer of high-end loudspeakers. Formed in 1991, Genesis was originally partnered by Canadian loudspeaker conglomerate Audio Products International (Mirage, Energy, Sound Dynamics), until famed designers Arnie Nudell and Paul McGowan bought API out in 1994.
Choice is generally considered a plus, but as many of our readers note, when it comes to audio, a format war is the last thing consumers need. While the DVD-A/SACD conflict takes the center audio stage, other technology battles are being fought off in the wings, including the satellite radio format tussle 'twixt XM and Sirius.
In apparent response to proposed federal legislation that would permit copyright holders to launch technological strikes against privately-owned computers, hackers launched an attack of their own over the weekend of July 27–28, rendering the website of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) unusable.
Late July was a volatile period for the music industry. On the 29th, Bertelsmann CEO Thomas Middelhoff announced his resignation. The "young lion" who ushered the German media conglomerate into the Internet age—and into an ill-advised $100 million investment in now-forgotten Napster—apparently had a very different vision for the future of the company than does the Mohn family, which controls 75% of Bertelsmann stock. "Shareholders had mid- and long-term development prospects that were different from mine," Middelhoff told reporters. "In this context, I had no choice but to resign." Bertelsmann is parent company of BMG, the music giant.