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[ARSCLIST] Back-catalog (was Columbia Studio/Warehouse Fire)

Do you think that we'll see a large amount of the more obscure (obscure = not economically viable as a CD reissue) back-catalog material showing up exclusively at places like iTunes?

Yes. I think the way it'll go is 1) all the clearable (with artists & contracts, etc) stuff currently in print, prioritized by popularity, will go online; then, 2) all the clearable, already-digitized stuff (such as out-of-print CD's) will appear; finally, 3) selected analog masters will be digitized exclusively for online...by "selected," I mean either once-charted-but-out-of-print material, early works/outtakes/radio shows/live broadcasts by name artists, and "cult" titles which have acquired enough cachet to become visible at the corporate level.

It would be great if there were a final option, i.e. 4) everything else in the vaults, but the time and manpower necessary for that - combined with the diminishing pool of analog-qualified transfer engineers, divided by just how long the majors will continue to pay for storage of a century worth of non-income-producing masters - is unlikely.

And, do you think there will be a big enough market to justify two tiers of quality for downloaded music -- the mass-market lossy-compressed AAC and perhaps a slightly pricier "hifi" version in full CD quality (in some as yet un-named copy-protected but full resolution format)?

I think so. I understand there are already companies doing this. My take on lossy formats is that this is like the early days of TV: dinky screens, fuzzy pictures, but folks were thrilled with the technology...but as the novelty wore off, consumers came to demand more from it. The same will happen to digitized, portable music.

As always, these are solely my thoughts, and I neither speak for nor represent any corporate entity herein.

Al Q.

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