If you haven't seen much in the mainstream press about the new satellite radio services from XM and Sirius, both poised to launch before the end of the year, you soon will. First out of the chute with the big media bucks, XM Satellite Radio unveiled last week its national advertising campaign called "Radio to the Power of X."
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.
There appears to be nothing more important to the music business today than controlling the distribution and use of digital content on the web and in the home. Proprietary schemes to prevent or control the use of audio files have become hot commodities and valuable assets for many companies. Liquid Audio recently announced that the US Patent Office has awarded the company a patent (#6,219,634) for its watermark technique used for distributing secure digital music files.
In what is intended to have the biggest impact yet on the thriving "rip, mix, burn" lifestyle, Macrovision has revealed that several record labels have been secretly putting its copy protection system onto new CD releases since around March of this year (see previous report). The process, called SafeAudio, is a Macrovision registered trademark and is intended to prevent the copying of CDs, or tracks from CDs, onto CD-R discs and computer hard drives. The technology was developed jointly by Macrovision and TTR Technologies.
Music fans who use their computers to organize their CD or MP3 music libraries have found the CDDB music database, now owned and operated by Gracenote (see previous story), to be an essential part of their audio world. If you use CDDB-enabled hardware or software, the artist, album title, genre, and track titles will automatically display when you put a CD or load an MP3 file into your computer or compliant player.
If you work in the consumer electronics industry and would like to see your personal CE hero rewarded, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) would like to hear from you. The CEA announced last week that it is seeking nominations from its members, the press and other industry professionals for the 2002 class of inductees into the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame.
It may be true that baby-boomers yearn to relive their childhoods, but how many aging wanted-to-be rock stars and music lovers still like to play with dolls? McFarlane Toys, which made its mark creating and marketing Spawn merchandise, is hoping quite a few.
In 1991, British loudspeaker manufacturer B&W celebrated its 25th birthday with the introduction of the John Bowers Silver Signature loudspeaker (see review). Not the largest or most expensive speaker on the company chart, the John Bowers Silver Signature, named after the company's late founder, still prompted John Atkinson to write that its performance was the best he'd heard for its modest size in his listening room.
It might stand to reason that the first market for DVD-Audio discs will likely be consumers who already own DVD-Video machines. It also stands to reason that a large number of consumers who have set up a DVD-Video player in their systems have also added surround-sound speakers in their audio/video rooms, and are looking for new software to take advantage of the extra channels.