The music industry's worst nightmare is coming true: feeble attempts to shackle compact discs with "protection" are falling prey to simple felt pen hacks. And it's too late to build use-restriction and tracking technologies directly into CD players and existing computer CD drives.
After more than ten years in development, Sirius Satellite Radio announced last week that it will be officially launching its service with two events in Jackson, Mississippi beginning February 13. Sirius' competitor XM Satellite radio was able to get its service up and running last September.
Several news sources reported Saturday, January 22, that Time Warner is close to completing a merger with EMI Recorded Music. The combined company will be worth an estimated $20 billion, making it the world's second-largest music conglomerate, exceeded in size and scope only by Seagram Ltd.'s Universal Music. News of the deal came less than a week after the announcement of an impending merger between America Online, the world’s largest Internet service provider, with Time Warner, one of the world's largest media conglomerates.
Stereophile writers and editors were saddened to learn of the June 27 death of colleague Timothy White, editor-in-chief of Billboard magazine. White collapsed of an apparent heart attack in an elevator at Billboard's New York offices and died shortly thereafter at St. Vincent's Hospital. He was 50.
Embattled audio brand TAG McLaren Audio is showing more signs of life since hitting the ropes earlier this summer. After completing "a full strategic review of its participation in the audio market," the company had announced a re-focused effort to continue.
It would seem almost reasonable to imagine that your next stereo receiver or preamp could have an "intel inside" sticker on the front. Last week, software company Be made several announcements that it hopes will not only bring such a future to consumers, but also place itself at the center of the Internet-connected home-entertainment equipment market.
Back in the spring of 1986, I was visiting a hi-fi show in Lucerne, Switzerland. In the KEF/McIntosh/Perreaux room, I was engaged by a voluble American, who wanted to talk about the changes I was making with the English magazine Hi-Fi News. The conversation shifted to the hotel bar, then to a restaurant. The American was one Tony Federici, who at that time was distributing Perreaux gear in the US. With an education in the philosophy of science, Tony's comments were insightful and challenging. He was never at a loss for an opinion! After I moved to the US to take the editorial reins at Stereophile, Tony stayed in touch, and many were the conversations we had about audio magazines, the audio business, and music.
Last week, Napster announced that it had reached a preliminary agreement with US songwriters and music publishers to settle a class action lawsuit currently pending in federal court in California. The beleaguered company says the agreement includes terms under which the songwriters and music publishers will license their music to Napster's new membership-based service.
In early June, Toshiba will institute a new retailing program that embraces the Internet but favors traditional retailers. The electronics manufacturing giant will have "a defined group of Internet retailers" that will be built on a base of traditional retailers, according to an announcement made in late April. Later, the program will be expanded in stages to include Internet-only retailers. The announcement follows an announcement by Sony Corp. late in January that Sony would begin direct Internet sales this year.
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) reports that factory-to-dealer sales of audio products soared in March, with dollar volume increasing by 14% over March 1999, to a total of more than $721 million. According to the CEA, sales in the first quarter of this year were 10% ahead of first-quarter 1999, at approximately $1.75 billion.
Getting a jump on the RIAA's move to create a new music-download standard (see related article), Tower Records announced last week that it will feature a new song-download service, created by Atlanta-based amplified.com, on the Towerrecords.com website.
Even after a two-day auction and federal bankruptcy court approval of a $134.3 million bid by the Great American Group, which has stated that it plans to liquidate the music retailer, it's not precisely clear what is in store for Tower Records.