Visitors to the Listen.com website will find a headline on the home page: "Your Guide to MP3 and More." MP3 recordings, while a big hit with young music fans, have not been a favorite of the music business. The key to Listen.com's financial future as a download site is likely whatever ends up falling under "and more."
Last week, Command Audio announced $56 million in new funding from several media, technology, and venture capital companies for its audio-on-demand service. The company says that the new funding will help fuel the rollout of their entertainment and information service to major US markets in the coming year.
What began as a seemingly random collection of songs became a classic animated movie. Yellow Submarine was recently remastered and reissued on DVD and CD, and has now become the latest in a string of virtual-reality theme-park rides: Beatles fans visiting Berlin's Potsdamer Platz can travel through Pepperland at The Beatles' Yellow Submarine Adventure.
Last week, Tweeter Home Entertainment Group announced that it has reached an agreement in principle to acquire United Audio Centers, located in the Chicago, Illinois area. United Audio describes itself as a seven-store specialty consumer electronics retailer with annual sales of approximately $48 million, and says it has been in business in the Chicago market for over 40 years. The companies expect to complete the transaction on or about April 1, 2000, and note that the agreement in principle to acquire United Audio is subject to various terms and conditions, as well as to regulatory approval.
The buzz about digital audio downloads from the Internet would lead one to think that the only way we'll be buying music in the not-too-distant future is through the Web. But the reality this past holiday season looks quite different. Reuters is running stories saying that there was "No Santa for the Internet Music Industry," and record companies attempting to get online are having a tough time (see related item). MP3 for Dummies author Andy Rathbone states bluntly: "It [the digital music business] hasn't taken off as much as analysts expected," and EMI Records' Jay Alan Samit laments, "this year, over a billion songs were downloaded. None of our artists got paid."
At this year's recent CES in Las Vegas, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) announced the first 50 inductees into its Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame, chosen from the nominees by a panel of 11 media and industry professionals.
Digital perfectionists Meridian obviously pulled out all the stops on their new flagship speaker product, the DSP8000. Checking in at $45,000/pair, the eight-driver Digital Active design is expected to hit the market sometime in March. Meridian claims the three-way powered speaker has a 24/96 digital input on the back and processes the digital signal internally with two 100MHz DSP engines operating with 24/192 resolution. Also on display were the new DSP33s, also Digital Active but more modestly priced at $4500/pair.
The music business is a $13-billion-a-year industry, but the high-end audio industry reaches only a tiny fraction of the music lovers that number represents. "Everybody loves music, so why don't they love specialty audio?" was the question addressed to a group of industry experts at one of a series of AudioCafe.com-sponsored panel discussions on Friday, January 7, at the Alexis Park, during the 2000 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
High-end audio in trouble? That's been the consensus the last few years, but the sheer number of new products at this year's Consumer Electronics Show hints at a steady trend in the opposite direction. New developments in power conditioning abound, and several brave companies are even testing the SACD/DSD and DVD-Audio waters.
It's been a tough year for some of the audiophile record labels, as witnessed by the demise in late November of Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab (see previous story). The shock of MoFi's sudden departure even prompted Kimber Kable's Ray Kimber to fire off an e-mail to everyone within virtual reading range, urging them to buy a few audiophile CDs and LPs right now, before it's too late.