Will the official online music gates finally stream open and flood us with non-pirated tunes? Perhaps. One important step in the process has finally been taken. The National Music Publishers' Association (NMPA), the Harry Fox Agency (HFA), and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) announced last week that they have come to a "breakthrough" agreement on the licensing of musical works for new subscription services on the Internet.
Last week's online poll indicates that many Stereophile readers have an ongoing affinity for the retro design style of older audio gear. Several respondents say they find the warm glow of tubes and backlit displays seductively attractive in a darkened room, while others pine for the days of analog dials and softly lit meters with gently bouncing needles.
In an effort to move their businesses into cyberspace, record labels and audio content distributors are still experimenting with their online formulas. Key to the new economic models for selling music over the Net is this question: Would you rather pay a monthly subscription fee to download music, or pay for music track by track? According to market researcher Gartner Group, sites that plan to sell music via the subscription model should seriously reconsider.
SunnComm and others have been trying for years to find ways to prevent consumers from copying music discs. While their success in preventing digital copies has been mixed, lurking in the background was a problem many felt could never be solved.
Efforts to restrict the ways consumers use music they have purchased continue unabated. SunnComm (along with its sales and marketing arm MediaMax) has announced that its "newest patent-pending passive technology makes it even more difficult to bypass or 'hack' the copy protection structure contained on the MediaMax CDs."
The last few weeks have been a roller-coaster ride for CD copy-restriction developer SunnComm. The company was riding high in early September when it was announced that BMG and Arista had chosen its MediaMax CD-3 Technology to restrict how discs are used.
More than 70 producers, engineers, and representatives from consumer and professional equipment manufacturers, record companies, and recording studios recently came together in Europe to discuss new ways to promote and establish Super Audio CD. After a two-day conference in London, the attendees say they have agreed to establish the Super Audio Forum to foster a "supportive environment for the exchange of knowledge and marketing information, as well as providing a platform for industry-wide collaboration."
One of the drawbacks of the new DualDiscs released by the major labels to date is a lack of consistency when it comes to portability—the ability to easily transfer the music to any device the listener prefers, such as an iPod, media server, PC, or MP3 player, or to make a back-up CD for car use.
The Swedes have found a new way to kill time on those long, cold Scandinavian winter nights. On February 7, Swedish Radio (SR) announced that it had begun multichannel test transmissions from the Sirius 2 satellite, utilizing DTS's Coherent Acoustics compression/ decompression algorithm. The tests are intended to run until the end of April 2003.
DVD-Audio and SACD are offering record companies a chance to re-release their back-catalogs of "classic" material once again. But the results will not necessarily resemble the CD re-releases of the last two decades. Artists, producers, and labels now have an opportunity to go beyond the standard "re-mastered for (insert new format here)" process when updating an older title for DVD-Audio or SACD. For better or worse, they can entirely remix the master tapes for multi-channel surround sound.