Media conglomerate Viacom, parent company of Blockbuster Music, has reportedly put the ailing chain on the auction block. Most likely buyer is Torrance, California-based music retailer Wherehouse Entertainment, Inc., which has 220 stores of its own, primarily on the West Coast. On Wednesday, May 13, Reuters news service reported that Wherehouse had tendered an offer of $200 million for Blockbuster. Wherehouse has been in intermittent discussions for several months with Viacom.
Up from the deep: Torrance, CA-based Wherehouse Entertainment announced last week that it will purchase Blockbuster Music from Viacom Inc. for $115 million. The merged operation will have 598 stores throughout North America, second only to Minnesota-based Musicland. The deal comes at the end of a prolonged slump for the music industry, one that was particularly hard for Blockbuster.
Friday, October 25, 69pm: Whetstone Audio (2401 East 6th St. #1001, Austin, TX) will host its next "Hi-Fi Hootenanny." Rega's Paul Darwin will introduce the company's new Elicit-R integrated amplifier and Saturn-R CD player/DAC, which made their official debuts at last week's Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. For more info, visit WhetstoneAudio.com.
The buzz about digital audio downloads from the Internet would lead one to think that the only way we'll be buying music in the not-too-distant future is through the Web. But the reality this past holiday season looks quite different. Reuters is running stories saying that there was "No Santa for the Internet Music Industry," and record companies attempting to get online are having a tough time (see related item). MP3 for Dummies author Andy Rathbone states bluntly: "It [the digital music business] hasn't taken off as much as analysts expected," and EMI Records' Jay Alan Samit laments, "this year, over a billion songs were downloaded. None of our artists got paid."
We reported in 2005 on the Recording Industry Association of America's (RIAA) lawsuit against Patricia Santangelo and her suit in response to the trade group's allegations that she had participated in peer-to-peer file sharing. The record companies dropped their legal actions against Ms. Santangelo in December 2006, instead deciding to charge two of her children, Robert (16) and Michelle (20), with downloading songs from Kazaa.
If you've visited this website before, you'll notice that we're sporting a new look this week. You'll also find that, in addition to the new sheet metal and colors, there are also plenty of changes under the hood. The Stereophile site was originally launched on December 1, 1997. The old model lasted over three years, but three years is an eternity in Internet time, and we couldn't resist taking all of the comments readers have sent in over the months and sorting through them for fresh ideas.
If you work in the consumer electronics industry and would like to see your personal CE hero rewarded, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) would like to hear from you. The CEA announced last week that it is seeking nominations from its members, the press and other industry professionals for the 2002 class of inductees into the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame.
IRebuildMarantz.com: Robert D. Bowdish sent us an email recently, pointing us to his IRebuildMarants.com website, which he describes as "my semi-DYI site that's for the purpose of keeping great vintage audio gear alive."
At CES 2007, Bill Gates announced that Microsoft was developing a Windows® Home Server, saying, "As computers and digital media become more and more central to family life, we need better ways to organize, share, and protect digital content and information at home. Windows Home Server makes it easy for families to save, protect and access digital memories and experiences, so they can focus on using technology to organize their day-to-day lives, explore their interests, and share their memories with the people they care about."
Last week, Intel Corporation announced its membership in the DVD WG-4 Audio Working Group, and its support for the proposed DVD audio specification, as the next steps in bringing next-generation consumer-quality audio to the PC platform.
For far longer than I've been attending the January Consumer Electronics Show (CES), it has overlapped with the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo. Indeed, in the old days when the high-end portion of CES was housed in the Sahara hotel and casino, the two shows shared the same venue, leading to one of the more bizarre culture collisions known to modern man (one was certainly never in doubt as to who was there for which show).
Mastering engineer Denny Purcell let out a long sigh. "Does anyone in this room really believe that any of this is going to do any good?" he asked. Of the eight or nine people—each with decades of experience in the music and/or audio industries—hanging out at Georgetown Masters Studios in Nashville for SDMI's Phase II listening tests, no one said "Yes." The consensus: The watermarking issue will probably be dead and forgotten within a year.
We were saddened to hear of the passing, on December 10,of Audio Research founder William "Bill" Zane Johnson. Bill, who founded Audio Research in 1970 and became its Chairman Emeritus in 2008, is survived by his wife Nancy (left in photo) and family. We are preparing a tribute to Bill, to be published in the March 2012 issue of Stereophile, but meanwhile, we are reprinting here an interview Paul Messenger and I conducted with Bill that was originally published in the June 1983 issue of Hi-Fi News. (My thanks to HFN editor Paul Miller for permission. Stereophile's 1994 interview with Bill can be found here.)John Atkinson
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.