It has been another tough week for the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) as it continues to grapple with a waning CD market, and attempts to further rein in the forces of a brave new digital audio world. It didn't help that its website was heckled until it went offline, either.
It will probably be years before we can determine the actual effects that Napster and other online file-trading networks have had on the music business. Conflicting evidence suggests that swapping music either increases or reduces CD sales.
Traditional music radio has been taking a beating since the mid '80s, when declining audience numbers entered a ratings freefall. Reader Bard-Alan Finlan argued in his Soapbox a few weeks back that perhaps digital radio could cure the market's over-the-air terrestrial broadcast ills, if only it were implemented with adequate bandwidth and marketed correctly.
"The vinyl record should be commemorated, not forgotten, for its unique contribution to our society. Therefore the County of San Luis Obispo, in the state of California, proclaims a celebration of the memories of music. 'Vinyl Record Day' will be celebrated to acknowledge vinyl records' influence on individuals and cultures worldwide. The date is August 12th, the date of the invention of the phonograph by Thomas Edison in 1877."
What music lovers have suspected for months, and record labels vehemently deny, has apparently been confirmed by Forrester Research: Piracy is not responsible for the 15% drop in music sales in the past two years. According to a new report from Forrester, "Labels can restore industry growth by making it easier for people to find, copy, and pay for music on their own terms."
Issues surrounding the music industry are heating up, and most stories revolve around the record labels, musicians, congress, consumers, and music pirates. Often lost in the noise is the importance of another major player in the business: the technical folks who make recorded music happen.
DVD-Audio proponents, ranging from record labels execs and mastering engineers to CE manufacturers, staged a press event on August 9 at Dolby Labs in Los Angeles in the hopes of rekindling interest in their format, which has been quietly trying to launch for the last year or so. Warner Bros Records has gone so far as to call this current effort a "re-launch", but after spending over four hours with the DVD-A folks, this reporter thinks there's a good chance we may be seeing yet another official launch once most of the current issues (detailed below) are sorted out.
It's been, as Bette Davis might say, a bumpy ride, but Genesis says it is back as a designer and manufacturer of high-end loudspeakers. Formed in 1991, Genesis was originally partnered by Canadian loudspeaker conglomerate Audio Products International (Mirage, Energy, Sound Dynamics), until famed designers Arnie Nudell and Paul McGowan bought API out in 1994.
Choice is generally considered a plus, but as many of our readers note, when it comes to audio, a format war is the last thing consumers need. While the DVD-A/SACD conflict takes the center audio stage, other technology battles are being fought off in the wings, including the satellite radio format tussle 'twixt XM and Sirius.
Like most of the record business, classical music is having a tough time finding a new audience in the digital download world. And in line with the recent moves by record labels to market popular music online, classical music fans in the UK will soon have another bona fide incentive for locating and legally purchasing works via the Internet.