Stereophile editor John Atkinson---arguably the high-end audio publishing industry's single most important figure, and certainly its intellectual nexus---has seen it all in his 23 years in the high-end audio industry. At HI-FI '99 in Chicago, Audiocafe.com's Andrew Keen was able to pull JA away from his busy schedule for an in-depth interview about his views on the industry's current state of affairs---and on what's just over the horizon.
Radio broadcasts are still among the most useful resources for finding new music. They are also among the most frustrating. It's a rare occurrence anymore for announcers to tell you the name of a song and who performed it. Often, if you really want to know, you have to call the station and ask. If you're really lucky, someone might be willing to answer your question.
Cello Music and Film Systems is not merely one of the world's most prestigious names in audio and video. This week, a plush restaurant is opening at the company's new headquarters at 53 East 77th Street (212 517-1200) on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Cello, as the bar/restaurant/garden is appropriately named, will serve dinner by invitation only until mid-June, when it will be opened to the public, according to Florence Fabricant in the May 19 edition of the New York Times.
Houston, Texas-based AstroJams is back online with Grateful Dead MP3s. The site shut down its offerings of Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia Band downloads after receiving a cease-and-desist order from attorneys for Grateful Dead Productions in April. At issue was the site's use of advertising to generate revenue. GDP claims the sole legal right to commercial benefits stemming from the use of the band's music and logos, but had "never objected" to the free sharing of music in the Dead tradition, according to Dennis McNally of GDP's publicity department.
The MP3 digital music format continues to gain momentum. Only two weeks ago, Thomson S.A., the international electronics conglomerate (parent of RCA and ProScan), announced a 20% investment in MusicMatch, Inc., the San Diego, California-based maker of management software for the upstart format. Last week Thomson took a further radical stance by announcing RCA's own MP3 player, the Lyra, to a gathering of more than 400 dealers at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas.
Our report two weeks ago on Grateful Dead Productions and its dispute with MP3 sites was tainted by some bits of misinformation. Dave Rosenberg, webmaster at OtherOnes.net, has pointed out that his site did not receive a cease and desist order, but was asked to remove any Grateful Dead logo. Rosenberg was appreciative of the publicity the issue has received. "Thank you for publishing and making known the problems Deadabase is currently facing from Grateful Dead Productions," he wrote.
Upstart digital audio format MP3 received some heavy-duty validation with the announcement on Wednesday, April 27 by Thomson Multimedia SA that it has made a 20% investment in MusicMatch Inc., a maker of MP3 player and management software. "Jukebox," as the software is known, is used to play, encode, and manage MP3 files. Thomson makes RCA, ProScan, and Thomson brand electronics.
The night after we got home from the 1999 Consumer Electronics Show in January—see the report in this issue—my dear companion and I attended a performance of Madama Butterfly at San Francisco's beautifully refurbished War Memorial Opera House. It was a Tuesday evening, traditionally a big event for the Opera's benefactors. From our box seats, we had an excellent view of a production musically sumptuous and visually austere—and of a sea of gray and balding heads.
The Grateful Dead were the most enduring and most worshipped of all the rock groups who originated in the San Francisco scene of the 1960s. The Dead spawned Deadheads, a global family of loyal followers, who lived for the communal high of Dead concerts, where recording by fans was encouraged by the band and its management. Deadheads continue to share recordings of those concerts through a vast network, including several websites. Until recently, at least two of the sites had been providing MP3 transmissions at no charge.
There's gold in them digital music hills. This obvious reality---supported by the music industry's near-panic in the face of the phenomenal growth of MP3 in the past year---was reinforced last week, when Sony Corporation and International Business Machines announced a digital music mutual-aid pact at a press conference in Los Angeles.