For lifelike audio presentation in your living room, what could be better than the real thing? When it comes to putting the sound of a piano in your home, nothing comes close to, well, a real piano. For more than a century, several companies have marketed player pianos, first using rolls of punched paper, and most recently sophisticated MIDI programs. But if a real piano represents the ultimate audio performance in your living room, who has the ultimate real piano?
The struggle for position in the Internet-based audio downloading market continues unabated. On the format front, Sony has recently announced several deals to bring its ATRAC compressed-audio format to the Web, while IBM and Liquid Audio announced last week that they have entered into a strategic relationship intended to "advance the digital music marketplace" with content-management tools.
Next to join the online ATRAC parade, Warner Music Group announced last week that it has agreed to license the ATRAC3 audio compression technology from Sony, for use in the electronic distribution of music. Warner says it expects to launch its electronic distribution business during the second half of 2000, using ATRAC3 on a non-exclusive basis.
When polled earlier this month, Stereophile's online readers were split on the topic of DVD-Audio's surround capabilities: 30% expressed interest, but an equal number were not so thrilled with the idea. While the release of the official high-resolution DVD-A format is still several months away, some record labels have been quick to capitalize on the ability of current DVD players to play compressed AC3- and DTS-encoded audio DVDs, in the hopes of developing a market for a lower-fidelity surround-sound format.
Last week, e.Digital announced a licensing agreement to incorporate Sony's ATRAC3 sound-compression technology into e.Digital's portable Internet music-player designs. e.Digital claims that its multi-codec platform, including ATRAC3 support, can be incorporated into a variety of products including portable digital music players, home and automotive stereos, and functionally enhanced wireless phones.
Last week, the Experience Music Project, described as an "interactive museum devoted to creativity and innovation in American popular music," announced that it will open its doors to the public on Friday, June 23, 2000, in Seattle, Washington, with a multi-day celebration featuring events in and around the museum, and live performances by a wide variety of musicians. EMP said it expects more than a million visitors during the course of its first year.
John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band's 1971 album Imagine has now been remixed and remastered at Abbey Road Studios in London, supervised by Yoko Ono, and will be reissued in a new version on vinyl, CD, and cassette by Capitol Records on March 28. The re-release precedes the April 11 release of a behind-the-scenes DVD documentary, Gimme Some Truth—The Making of John Lennon's Imagine Album, which attempts to examine the creative process that took place at Lennon's home recording studio during the legendary 1971 sessions.
Last week, Capitol Records announced that it will release expanded DVD and VHS editions of Endless Harmony: The Beach Boys Story. The documentary, produced by Stephanie Bennett and directed by Alan Boyd, made its US television debut on VH1 in 1998. A soundtrack CD of Endless Harmony, originally released to coincide with the VH1 airing, is also available.
Because they now realize that downloading music from the Internet is here to stay, it would seem the major record companies would love to see a world in which Web consumers no longer own a copy of a song or album, but simply pay each time they listen to it.
It happens to most of us. You're tooling down the road, listening to the radio, and you hear some music that captures your interest. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to easily find out who the artist is and what label they record for without waiting for the announcer, so you can head to your favorite music outlet and buy the disc? But how about pushing a button and ordering the item right there on the spot—from the driver's seat?