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

see end...
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Tom Fine" <tflists@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> Hi Al:
> This is all encouraging!
> For what it's worth, Apple has streamlined their market-leading (by far)
portable digi-player line
> to three models: iPod with video, Nano and the new smaller Shuffle. The iPod
and Nano both can play
> WAV and ALF files (unsquashed formats). The new Shuffle cannot play ALF (nor
could the old one) but
> can play WAV -- whether that's practical or not with a 1 gig storage capacity
is another matter. I
> would bet the future of the Shuffle type player is to get more memory for the
same price, since
> flash memory chips continue to fall. I predict we will see a 4-gig Shuffle
type player (no display,
> rudamentary controls) for the same $100-150 in a couple of years. At that
time, the Nano type player
> (flash memory, display screen, no hard drive) might be 20 or even 40 gigs for
the same $300. The
> hard drive iPod could be 200 or even 300 gigs for the same price as today, and
perhaps with even
> better video capabilities.
> My point is, Al's analogy to early TV will hopefully bear out. There's no
space-limits reason to use
> squashed files in the future I'm predicting. Broadband continues to spread and
the target iPod
> customer usually has broadband anyway, so downloading logistics are no longer
an issue in the
> future.
> I'll go out on a limb here and make one more prediction. I think offering
> digi-downloads for somewhere in the neighborhood of CD pricing ($1-1.25 per
song, $12-15 per album)
> will attract a bigger audience than some pundits think. If it's marketed
correctly, it could bring a
> bunch of new users into the iPod fold, people who have somewhat discerning
tastes and were
> previously turned off by the quality of downloaded files. This trend will
hasten since much of the
> music to this older, more mature (and richer) demographic's taste is or will
be out of print in CD
> format.
> I think another thing Apple and iTunes can address -- or someone else will -- 
is the need for better
> metadata to go along with album downloads. There's no reason this metadata
can't be part of the
> digi-files. I know MP3 and MP4 have robust tag-info capabilities and I am
assuming that if Apple or
> Microsoft put a security wrapper on a full-quality format, they'd of course
include robust tagging
> capabilities. With a screen good enough to watch movies, surely some iPod
users long for album notes
> and other details. Yes, album art is already included in some cases, but some
of us really miss the
> notes and recording details.
> One more positive thing that Al touched on. A LOT of back-catalog stuff is
already in the can in
> digital form. Remember, many CD's from the early days are now out of print.
And more go out every
> week since the CD retailing universe is so consolidated and limited. This
whole catalog of
> already-digitally-mastered material can be re-mined with a business model that
does not require
> thousands of sales per album per month or year to justify re-releasing it. One
company that has been
> active in exploiting this fact has been Universal. They now have dozens of
Verve and Mercury jazz
> reissues available as iTunes squashed format at the iTunes store and linked
directly to Verve's
> website. Many of these albums were issued on CD in Japan first or in the US in
the 80's and early
> 90's and are now out of print. Yes, some of the material has made it to
various box sets and
> anthologies, but the original album-sequence/album-art/album-notes versions
are long out of print. I
> think it's nice to offer this variety in some format instead of letting it
molder in the vaults, but
> I have a two-fold beef with the current implementation: 1) the poor sound
quality of the AAC/MP4
> format (even as compared to the original LPs, much less the out-of-print CD's)
and 2) the total lack
> of notes/details which are pretty much mandatory for most jazz fans. At $10
per album, I'd call this
> a ripoff in its current form, but I'd be much more inclined to say it's a good
deal if the audio
> were true CD quality (ie unsquashed) and if there were robust song/album tag
information, I'd argue
> it's worth CD pricing for the convenience as long as one can still burn a CD
as well as load into
> their iPod. I don't really have a beef with Apple's copy-protection system as
it is now (5
> computers, 5 or 6 CD burns allowed). I have yet to bump against any problems
with it and I am
> definitely not a one-computer or one-MP3-player person. Bob Ohlsson's point
about copyright
> protection is key -- there will simply be no decent music made or reissued if
artists and labels
> cannot make money as commercial music making is not a charity endeavor. I have
not heard much hue
> and cry against Apple's system and reports I've seen indicate labels that sell
through iTunes are
> happy with the revenue stream.
> All in all, here's hoping we're moving forward from a very bad phase in the
music business and we'll
> see a future of higher quality, more consumer choices and an accompanying
growth of the business.
> I'm hoping that even worst than iTunes formats like Real and Yahoo "radio
jukebox" streaming garbage
> quality will be a lame detour and go away.
> -- Tom Fine
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Al Quaglieri" <al@xxxxxxxxx>
> To: <ARSCLIST@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> Sent: Wednesday, October 04, 2006 8:05 AM
> Subject: [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
> >
> >>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.
> >
There exists another possibility! Someone could write the (fairly
simple) program to automate selection of sound files (in random
order, by artist, by genre, alphabetically by title name, and
so on...). This program, along with a large amount of digital
sound files, a database covering the contents, and a very large
hard drive...could then be installed on "obsolete" and thus more
or less useless otherwise "surplus" computers, so that they could
then serve as "music players" by feeding sound-card "Line Out"
signals into home audio systems.

You can now buy used Pentium III machines for under $100...and
250GB drives are also $100 or less. This large capacity might
allow the possibility of using totally-uncompressed .WAV files...
even if those ran 10MB each, there would be room for around
25,000 of them!

Anybody want a new business?!

Steven C. Barr

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