Universal Music Group (UMG) may go on the auction block to help bail out debt-ridden Vivendi Universal. On March 6, Vivendi announced a record loss of $25.4 billion (€23.3 billion) for the 2002 fiscal year. The biggest loss in French corporate history followed a staggering $14.9 billion (€13.6 billion) loss for 2001.
There's a widespread myth that writers who get published are more talented than writers who don't get published, and that musicians who make records are more talented than musicians who don't make records. But anyone with any talent who has ever tried to earn a living as a writer, a musician, or any other kind of artist understands that the correlation between merit and success is, at best, loose. Some successful artists are talented, and some talented artists are successful. But for every talented artist who manages to make a living there are a dozen more, equally deserving, who have no choice but to keep their day jobs.
It has become commonplace these days for a hot album to hit the streets days—if not weeks or even months—before its official release, inspiring all manner of stupid promo tricks on the part of record labels. Pearl Jam's recent Riot Act was distributed to the press in portable CD players with the lids glued shut and last week saw the White Stripes record label create 500 promo vinyl LPs of the group's impending Elephant release in place of the traditional advance CDs in an effort to stymie the digital pirate's plans.
One of the most significant trends in audio, witnessed at the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, is the emergence of the music server market. Pioneer, Panasonic, Marantz, Meridian, Onkyo, Rotel, Philips, Linn, and others have emphasized audio products that can be networked with each other and the Internet, and are able to share content throughout a home. Pioneer even suggests that networks will not necessarily involve a PC, but instead consist of dedicated music-server-like components.
Respondents to our weekly Stereophile polls often tell us they would buy more CDs if the prices weren't so high. So would their European counterparts, according to a survey released February 18 by the International Federation of Phonograph Industries (IFPI). Prices for recorded music are even higher in Europe than they are in the US.
You want controversy? We got major controversy right here. In 1991, the Tice R-4 TPT and Coherence ElectroTec EP-C "Clocks" were released and then the fun started. Read everything Stereophile writers and readers had to say about these contentious products, as well as comments from the manufacturer.
It's tough to know which CDs, SACDs, and DVD-Audio discs have been restricted through watermarks or other "copy protection" techniques. This has created a thriving underground community, with websites such as Fat Chuck's devoted to sussing out the corrupted audio products and posting notification to consumers.
In October 2000, during Napster's prolonged courtroom agony, Bertelsmann AG alienated fellow music industry plaintiffs by investing $50 million in a strategic partnership with the file-sharing upstart. At the time, Bertelsmann hoped to leverage Napster's technical expertise and fame to give Bertelsmann Music Group the inside track with Internet music distribution.
Copy protection efforts currently being initiated by national lawmakers at the behest of the entertainment industry are based on a model of Internet use that will soon become obsolete, according to Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig.