The Elf Foundation's accomplishments are extraordinary. In just four and a half years, the nonprofit organization has facilitated the design and construction of more than 40 Rooms of Magic. These are private entertainment theaters in medical facilities for children: hospitals, as well as centers for autism, abused children, and kids with long-term disabilities. And none of the design work or state-of-the-art equipment for these children's oases costs the host facilities a cent.
Don't bother to tell Music Lovers Audio that audio sales have slowed. At a time when many dealers have abandoned two-channel audio altogether or chosen between de-emphasizing music and calling it quits, this Bay Area audio retailer has opened a second store a mere 30 miles from the original North Berkeley location, across the Bay in San Francisco.
In this age of the major record labels maximizing music profits at all costs, even if it involves installing spyware on consumers' computers, www.Magnatune.com stands apart. The website offers entire albums' worth of music of high quality for download in a choice of formats, from highest-quality MP3 (three times the size of iTunes MP3 files) to CD-quality WAV files. It also gives 50% of the money it collects directly to its artists. Magnatune founder John Buckman, 36, who divides his time between London and Berkeley, chose the site's motto: "Internet Music Without the Guilt: Magnatune, the open music record label."
Film Music Radio (FMR), one of the newest outposts in the expanding galaxy of cyberspace music media, emerged from the digital ethers on September 13. The Internet radio station streams film and television soundtracks around the clock, and offers genre-based block programs and unique DJ-hosted specialty shows.
This week, XM Satellite Radio launches Classical Confidential, a series of hour-long artist profiles. Modeled after XM's Artist Confidential series, in which listeners can get to know high-profile artists "up close and personal," per XM, the new show's first installment features an hour with Sony BMG's favorite male violinist, the sweet-toned, extremely gifted Joshua Bell. Subsequent shows will feature the magnificent mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli and conductor Leonard Slatkin.
In an era when music as instant entertainment enjoys increasing dominance over music as art, cellular phones have emerged as the latest purveyor of music on demand. Issues of sound quality mean little when the goal is to accumulate more and more files at an ever-accelerating pace and have ever easier access to those files.
The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra announced the launch of its new e-label, MSO Classics, on October 4. In a worldwide digital distribution deal with IODA, the Independent Online Distribution Alliance, the symphony will draw on its archive of over 300 live performances recorded between 1970 and 2005 for airing on its nationally disseminated radio broadcasts.
It's not just Katrina and Rita that have devastated the lives of musicians in the Gulf Coast area. The state of the economy, a decrease in services for the poor and marginally employed, the shorter attention span of those weaned on TV and computers, and an ever-increasing emphasis on image and effect over substance have all taken a huge toll on Gulf Coast musicians.
Naxos, the world's leading distributor of classical music, has just signed a worldwide digital distribution deal with the Independent Online Distribution Alliance (IODA), which will use its Digital Distribution Dashboard (D3) technology platform to distribute and manage music files from the Naxos family of distributed music labels. The deal entails distributing titles to many of Naxos' 22 Digital Service Providers, including Sony Connect, Rhapsody, iTunes, Napster, and Microsoft (which charges consumers the lowest download price of all: $4.99 for an entire Naxos CD).
Telarc's stunning hybrid multichannel SACD of Jennifer Higdon's City Scape and Concerto for Orchestra has received the 2005 OutMusic Award for Outstanding New Instrumental Recording. The disc has also received the 2005 Grammy for Best Engineered Classical Recording (well-deserved by Jack Renner) and 2005 Grammy nomination for Best Orchestral Performance (equally well-deserved by Higdon champion Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra).