In an e-mail exchange with Stephen Mejias about why the mere mention of cassette decks on www.stereophile.com can so easily inflame our readers (and John Atkinson), I began to develop the idea that the brains of audiophiles and music lovers are governed by three complementary needs, or desires, that define who we are. I joked to SM that these desires, which apparently shift over time, constitute the Holy Trinity of Audiophiledom. They are, respectively, the love, desire, and need for:
Every autumn, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) publishes its "Five Technologies to Watch" list of "technology trends poised to shape the consumer electronics industry" in the year ahead. Most of the choices may seem obvious, but the final entry on the list this year may be a surprise for audiophiles.
News last week about SafeAudio CD copy protection indicates that while fighting pirates, the major record labels are also attempting to seal off the ability of users to place their own music from CDs onto computers. If they succeed, the only alternative for consumers who want non-pirated music on their desktops will be to buy content directly from the labels themselves, or companies set up to legally supply digital audio.
If you find yourself spending more time in a car seat than in your audio system's sweet spot each day, the trend pairing high-end audio companies with car manufacturers may offer a little relief. Lexus made a big splash last year by incorporating Mark Levinson technology into its latest cars, joining collaborations between Dynaudio and Volvo among others.
The music industry and the file-sharing community have been waiting nervously for the impending Supreme Court decision in MGM vs Grokster, which is expected any day. At stake is not only peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing, but the development of future forms of music distribution.
It wasn't too long ago that rock band Pearl Jam set their lawyers after the dozens of independent websites pre-releasing pirated versions of the band's album Yield, hoping to curtail its availability on the Internet. How times change. On June 4, any consumer with access to the Internet and a RealNetworks G2 player will have the opportunity to visit the world's "ultimate listening posts" when the Red Hot Chili Peppers' new album, Californication, and Def Leppard's Euphoria, will be available in their entireties for streaming on the Web---four days prior to their official June 8 release.
The record biz is in a world of hurt and doesn't mind broadcasting the news far and wide. But while the source of its woes will be debated in business schools for years to come, studies are starting to emerge that document the demographics of music buyers and their changing behaviors.
Joe Abrams has an impressive audio resume. "I've been on the manufacturer's side of the desk since 1979," he says. That's when he started as national sales manager for Monster Cable. A few years later found Abrams as director of sales at Sumiko, and then in 1987 he started as VP of sales at Threshold. In 1991 Abrams joined cable start-up Tara Labs and quickly helped them establish a dealer network before moving on to MIT.
This is the first year that the high-end audio exhibits are clustered in the Venetian Hotel and Casino. Emphasis on the casino part - to get to the majority of hotel room exhibits, we must negotiate about a quarter mile of hallway and casino to get from the shuttle stop to the elevators. The rooms themselves are nicely appointed, but several exhibitors are already complaining about the acoustics and the challenge of finding ways to make the two level suites music friendly. And on a personal note, the press room is back the quarter mile through the casino near the shuttle stop. End of gripe.
The latest figures for the music industry remain grim: Online sales of recorded music have dropped 20% through the first half of 2002 compared with the same period last year, losing ground faster than the overall US music market, which lost 7% during the same period, according to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). And the trend is accelerating. The latest numbers show online sales down 25% in the third quarter over last year.