Warner Music Group is supporting efforts by the DVD Forum to create a hybrid dual-layer CD/DVD-audio disc, according to reports from New York the first week of December. WMG, a unit of AOL Time Warner, is one of the music industry's principal backers of the DVD-Audio format.
Audiophiles have complained since the earliest days of the compact disc that music reissued in the digital format often doesn't sound as good as it does on the original LPs. For nearly 20 years, such complaints have been dismissed by ordinary music lovers and by music-industry executives as the rantings of purists, but at least one major label is now admitting that many early CDs were not very good.
This is old news, but you may not have read it anywhere: Warner Classics no longer exists as an "active" label. Gramophone published a news item breaking the story on June 2 and Norman Lebrecht apparently analyzed and excoriated the move in his La Scena Musicale web log shortly thereafter. We say "apparently," since Lebrecht's site now reads www.scena.org is now expired.
Speaking at the GSMA Mobile Asia Congress in Macau on November 13, Warner Music Group (WMG) chairman and CEO Edgar Bronfman, Jr. warned mobile phone executives to heed the mistakes of the record industry as it moved forward.
On December 27, Amazon.com and Warner Music Group announced that WMG's entire 2.9 million-song catalog would be available on Amazon's DRM-free, à la carte MP3 store—the first time the entire Warner catalog has been available online and the first time it has been offered sans DRM.
After a difficult gestation, DVD-Audio may finally be moving toward becoming a market reality now that a major record label has stepped forward to support it. Warner Music Group (WMG) has issued several recordings in the new format, covering a range of genres. DVD-A is "the most significant industry format launch since the introduction of the CD nearly 20 years ago," according to an October 2 WMG press release.
One of the industry's most ambitious digital distribution programs has been announced by Warner Music Group. In November, WMG will make more than 1000 albums and singles available as downloads through several online music retailers, using RealNetworks' RealPlayer software. Music fans in the US and Canada are the target audience for the download program, according to a September 11 press release.
As promised earlier in January, Warner Music Group has announced a major restructuring that it hopes will put it in better shape to compete in the "challenging business environment of today's music industry." The move comes after the recent closing of WMG's $2.6 billion acquisition by Edgar Bronfman, Jr. and a group of investors.
Many people remember the 1990 Milli Vanilli scandal, in which Rob Pilatus and Fabrice Morvan were stripped of their Best New Artist Grammy award when it was revealed they hadn't actually performed on the disc. Of course, "borrowing" has long been a part of the pop music world, as George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord," Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love," and almost any sampled recording can attest; however, most listeners have probably assumed things are a lot more straightforward in the world of classical performance and recording.
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 loosened many long-established constraints on the ownership and operation of radio and television stations in the United States. The regulatory changes launched waves of mergers and acquisitions through the nation's broadcasting industry, consolidating what had been many regional companies into a few large conglomerates in just a few years. Backed by vice president Al Gore and the then chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), William Kennard, the changes were intended to make the broadcasting industry more responsive to the "free market."
There appears to be nothing more important to the music business today than controlling the distribution and use of digital content on the web and in the home. Proprietary schemes to prevent or control the use of audio files have become hot commodities and valuable assets for many companies. Liquid Audio recently announced that the US Patent Office has awarded the company a patent (#6,219,634) for its watermark technique used for distributing secure digital music files.
Record labels have found that CDs with built-in restriction technologies have not worked in all CD players, have been incompatible with some computers, and have engendered considerable backlash from irate consumers. But why should that stop them?
Can pirate chasers attend to business while accusing each other of piracy? Digimarc and Verance Corporation, two competitors in the digital watermarking race, have been swapping accusations over patent infringements.
As digitally recorded music moves through the recording and production chain, it can be handed off to a variety of studios, musicians, producers, record label executives, and mastering engineers. Sometimes this is done with a recordable CD or DVD, sometimes with a portable hard disk, and sometimes via a high-bandwidth Internet connection. Somewhere along the way, a good percentage of those files (some estimate up to 80%) get copied in an unauthorized manner and quickly end up on the Internet or on the street as pirated CDs before any official discs are released.