Last week, InterTrust Technologies, which creates Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology, and format developer DataPlay announced a partnership intended to create a portable media distribution platform for protected content such as music. Universal Music Group, EMI Recorded Music, and BMG Entertainment have all announced that they are planning to release prerecorded music on the resultant DataPlay digital format for use in a variety of consumer electronic devices.
It's bad enough for stores competing with each other for consumer loyalty—imagine how retailers must feel when the largest consumer-electronics company in the world decides to compete with you as well. This grim reality came true for dealers around the world last week, when Sony Electronics outlined its plans for SonyStyle.com, which the company describes as "an information-rich e-commerce website." The site is scheduled to be launched this fall.
At last week's International Solid-State Circuits Conference, IBM, Toshiba, and Sony unveiled details of their new Cell processor chip—a device that The New York Times proclaimed would create "a new digital computing ecosystem that includes Hollywood, the living room and high-performance scientific and engineering markets."
A good part of each day around here is spent perusing the internet for all things audio: manufacturer sites, audio news, newsgroups, equipment reviews, etc. What's found ranges from the good-intentioned to the well-financed, and much of what's out there also represents the labors of love many audiophiles lavish on their favorite hobby.
Some optimists in Washington, on Wall Street, and elsewhere predicted that the Asian economic crisis wouldn't reach the United States. But in late August, the financial flu infecting that part of the world, and the ongoing monetary instability in Russia, finally affected North America. As of Friday, August 28th, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was hovering just above 8000, down from a record high of 9337.97 on July 17th. The market decline has affected the whole economy---traditional industries as well as hot-ticket ventures like Internet stocks.
Last week, WorldSpace announced that it has launched what it describes as "the world's largest digital audio broadcast system." The new system is based on a satellite radio service that recently began transmitting a wide array of multilingual radio programming across the entire African continent.
The recent struggle between the RIAA and Napster may seem like a distant battle rumbling off in some foreign realm, far removed from most audiophiles: about once a week we get e-mails asking why a high-end audio website should even cover such stuff.
Imagine yourself a recording artist just signed to a contract with one of Sony Music's record labels. You put out a couple of albums and start a website using your own name (say, for example, www.bobdylan.com). But the music wind starts blowing in a different direction, your contract comes up for renewal, and, either through your manager's insistence or that of one of Sony's big cheeses, you decide to leave the label and sign with someone else.
While a relative trickle of copy-restricted CDs have been released in the US, European labels have been more likely to experiment with lock-down technology. Russia is battling extreme piracy, as its culture and mass communications minister, Aleksandr Sokolov, reported to his government last week, asserting that pirated wares account for 80–90% of the overall audio and video sales in that country.
In some ways, entrepreneurs resemble the folks who fix your roof: When they see a hole somewhere, their job is to find a way to fill it. Long-time high-end audio veterans Mel and Howard Schilling and Doug Goldberg say they have spotted a hole in the audio market and are getting ready to launch a new company to fill it.
In his January "Sam's Space" column, while writing about the system he used with Sutherland's Director line stage (p.32), Sam Tellig wrote "For the most part, I used now-discontinued XLO interconnects and speaker cables. XLO itself has been discontinued, alas. I do miss its founder, Roger Skoff."
In May, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) sued XM Satellite Radio over the Pioneer Inno portable player, which has a 1GB recording capacity, but no way of porting the recordings outside the player.
There was at least one story we missed at last week's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and that was the announcement of two new plans to provide 5.1 music surround: XM Satellite Radio announced the addition of two 24-hour surround channels to its line-up and download service; MusicGiants announced its intention to add 5.1-channel "high-definition" audio files to its premium subscription service.
Extra-terrestrial radio is poised to celebrate Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's 250th birthday. From Wednesday January 25 through Friday, January 27, XM Satellite Radio will broadcast live performances by many of the most celebrated Mozartians of our time direct from the Carolino Augusteum, a 17th-century castle and former home of the Archbishops of Salzburg that overlooks the Salzburg Cathedral and the Mozart Platz. Artist interviews and sound portraits of the Salzburg milieu will spice up the proceedings.