Audio Video Revolution Forum

Audio Video Revolution Forum (http://www.avrev.com/forum/index.php)
-   Discuss AVRev.com News (http://www.avrev.com/forum/discuss-avrev-com-news-10/)
-   -   A Blueprint For the Future of High-Resolution, 5.1 Music (http://www.avrev.com/forum/discuss-avrev-com-news/475-blueprint-future-high-resolution-5-1-music.html)

AVRevForum.com 08-16-2007 05:41 PM

A Blueprint For the Future of High-Resolution, 5.1 Music
 
Buried in the rubble of an audio disc format war, with no winner, lie the remains of two high-resolution audio formats, SACD and DVD-Audio. These formats held tremendous potential in their day and have left the audiophile and music enthusiast communities desperate for a high-resolution answer to their audio questions. A deeper casualty from the high-resolution audio format war has been the death of the concept of the album and the near death of music mixed specifically for surround sound. While Hollywood movies in the theater and on various disc formats, HD video game titles, and even Las Vegas shows like Love and Blue Man Group are designed to wow audiences with high-resolution audio in at least 5.1 channels, today’s music is increasingly being sold the easiest way possible – through low-resolution downloads for easy consumption on iPods and computers alike.

The question at hand is – do consumers actually care about the high-end audio experience? The quick answer is absolutely “yes”, however there are certain caveats. The idea of re-purchasing an entire collection of music is something consumers are actually willing to do as they proved the 1980s, as people migrated from LPs to Compact Discs, but when faced with an intolerable value proposition that involves investing in a $1,000 new player, a new receiver and as many as nine cables to connect the system, it is enough of a barrier to leave the masses sticking with less resolved CDs. Additionally, in order for consumers to be tempted to buy their music collection over again, labels need to offer enough compelling software. Anybody with a 5.1 sound system can blow their neighbors away with a demo of "Dark Side of the Moon" in 5.1 on SACD, but with none of the other Pink Floyd records released in surround sound or high-resolution audio, that $1,000 plus investment in surround sound equipment is just not that tempting, even for affluent consumers.

With over 50,000,000 surround sound systems already installed, most of which are centered around a DVD player, the obvious question is: how could major and indy labels miss the opportunity to resell their music in surround sound and high-resolution to this audience? Especially when the cost to create the music is already pretty much paid for. First, record labels are inherently lazy. They take the path of least resistance, and right now that is selling music by the download, which is currently a $3,000,000,000 business yearly and growing. However, that sales number is nothing compared the reduction in overall music sales from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s. Any label executive when presented with this fact will immediately jump to blaming Napster and peer-to-peer file sharing for their precipitous drop in sales, but really the sales have been lost more to video gaming and home video sales on DVD. Components that can easily connect to your TV with one or two cables, and cost no more than a few hundred dollars, provide a stunning audio and video experience. A CD sold by a major label is an audio only experience that consumers are willing to dilute en route to their MP3 player. With no high-resolution or surround sound solution: who can blame them?

Major labels are sitting on a vault of music that could be a goldmine, but they are incapable of seeing that they can sell it over and over again in various formats, with meaningful changes and added values. Why is it that Microsoft can sell you a new operating system or a copy of MS Office every few years, but Sony Music cannot find a way to meaningfully repackage the Miles Davis catalog? Why is it that EA Sports can sell a copy of Madden Football to millions of gamers and football fans with incremental changes and improvements each year but MCA-Universal cannot find a way to release the Jimi Hendrix catalog on a format that gets you as close as technically possible to the master tape?

The largest problem plaguing major record labels is fear. Fear of new technologies. Fear of new business models. Fear of anti-trust lawsuits and beyond. For more than 50 years, record labels have fought every new audio technology that came down the path. Records were supposed to kill of sheet music. DAT tapes would kill of CD sales. The computer industry doesn’t suffer from such woes, and it should be no surprise that a player from the computer industry walked in and redefined the music business with a simple device and a legal way to buy music online. One look at the scoreboard shows that downloadable music represents a 3 billion dollar band-aid to a much more gangrenous, nine figure problem which is: the labels as of mid-2007, and with DVD-Audio and SACD lying in a technological morgue, don’t have a meaningful way to sell music to consumers that can compete with $50 video games and $20 DVDs. But, all is not lost.

Any reader of AVRev.com knows of the bigger and more heated format war currently raging between the HD disc formats of HD DVD and Blu-ray, with both vying for high-definition supremacy in the booming HDTV market. Both formats have one-cable connectivity with HDMI. They also have copy protection that is criticized by some but is better in the eyes of a record label than CD and DVD, which are predominately unprotected. A $400 HD player, and one cable being plugged straight into an HDTV can provide the beginning of an HD experience that can easily grow into 5.1 surround sound, in a way, that unlike the SACD/DVD-Audio format war has a value proposition that consumers might consider if there were titles worth investing in. So where are the Sony Music titles on Blu-ray with HD stereo music, remixes for surround sound and supplemental video segments, such as interviews, concert footage and HD music videos? Your guess is as good as mine, but much like a football fan is willing to spend as much as $200 for HD feeds of each game on Sunday, along with $500 for a Playstation 3, $2,000 for an HDTV, and $50 per year for a copy of Madden, clearly there is a willingness to spend. Major labels need to be man enough to break the mold, accept that “convergence” is upon us, and rally the troops to create a copy protected, high-value product, because consumers by the millions, far more than the home theater enthusiast or the Baby Boomer audiophile, are spending their money elsewhere and the irrefutable proof is in the yearly record sales.

by: Jerry Del Colliano

Gerben Van Duyl 08-16-2007 10:15 PM

Re: A Blueprint For the Future of High-Resolution, 5.1 Music
 
Dear Jerry,

Yes, the international music industry has responded negative and aggressive twice in the past decade when faced with new technological developments. They decided to take consumers to court when they started to download music illegally to their PC’s, rather than offering them a legal download facility. Thank you very much, said Apple’s Steve Jobs, who is always quick to see a trend and exploit it. They decided to ignore the fastest adopted consumer electronics revolution ever, the DVD, instead continuing to flog one dead horse, the CD, and inventing two new ones, the SACD and the DVD-A. They should have put that money and marketing effort in promoting the Music DVD, which offers high quality video, surround audio (DTS 96/24 anyone?) and extras. And it plays on millions of DVD players worldwide.

BUT THAT IS NOT THE MAIN ISSUE! When a new movie is made, it is released into a closed circuit first, the movie theatres, where the consumer has to pay to see the movie. (No segway to piracy allowed here, for brevity’s sake, please.) Then it is released onto a paid-for, physical format, the DVD. Games are released and it costs $50 to become a player.

Music is released and immediately mass-distributed for free, no cost at all, to the consumer. FM radio and MTV have their hands around the throat of the music industry. Give us your newest artists, your newest music, or we will not give you the marketing exposure. No movie studio or games producer would accept such marketing ‘partnerships’. You don’t need to buy new music, just turn on your radio, TV, PC. Try making money out of that. No wonder the studios don’t get round to making nice re-releases of their catalogue artists; they are bleeding all the way to the bank on their new crop or artists. Never mind high resolution surround music versions...

Will HD-DVD and BD help this situation? No, of course not. All we want from our musicians is easy tunes, songs we can sing, the joy of recognition, the melody that brings back a memory. We don’t want full albums with pop symphonies and documentaries about what they had for breakfast. That is why iTunes works. For a few cents you can buy a track that you just heard on the radio. Joy delivered, transaction over, pity it’s MP3. So this is the model that High-Resolution, Surround Music should follow. Just without the MP3 bit.

High-Resolution Surround Music has suffered for years by the lack of a dedicated market space: first as SACD and DVD-A did not have the shelf space in the shops (before they were removed altogether to make space for the Led Zeppelin DVD), then by the lack of a dedicated download destination. Without a market space, there will be no revenue for High-Resolution Surround Music. Without revenue, there will be no investment into High-Resolution Surround Music.

And this is where the combined music studios could steal back a march on Steve Jobs, by creating an iTunes equivalent for High-Resolution Surround Music, both for their newest artists and releases, as well as for their catalogue artists that we all crave so dearly. The revenues created will fund nice album releases as well, on any HD format you like. Please feel free to add this to your blueprint for the future of High-Resolution Surround Music.

And please feel free to email me if you want the business plan.

Kind regards, Gerben Van Duyl, former Director of Business Development for Consumer Content, DTS, London (now: Sydney, Australia)

JerryDelColliano 08-16-2007 11:12 PM

Follow up....
 
Thanks for your thoughtful response to my article and welcome to our forum.

A few counter points to your post....

1. The music industry has been MARRIED to FM radio and MTV for 50 and 20+ years respectively. That marriage is ended now that FM is dead and MTV is fractionalized. The music business needs to learn how to market which means actually spending money to promote and develop acts - something they stopped being good at in the early 1990's and show ZERO signs of doing now.

2. Market space would have been made for SACD and or DVD-Audio assuming that the players didn't cost $1000 when a DVD player (that plays a market favorite - video) cost $100 to $200. PLUS you needed a new preamp or receiver AND 9 cables ALL to listen to Queen or Dark Side of the Moon but not much more. Movie studios for the same basic money delivered ALL of their best movies for an audio video experience and consumers voted as did retailers. The reason DVD-Audio and SACD failed was because of fear of people stealing the music by the labels and the insuing lack of titles.

3. The idea of trying to beat Steve Jobs at the download game is a good one. You are telling me the geniuses at the majors who can't wipe their rear ends without an lawyer crouched in the stall with them to say it isn't "anti-trust" could get their act together well enough to take back the market from Apple? C'mon Gerben. Seriously. D&M Holdings, a MULTI-BILLION dollar company tried to be in the space with the iPod and they got killed with their RIO players. Napster, with GREAT brand recognition, can't get anywhere today compared to iTunes. Apple owns the space and there is little the majors can do to get it back other than to go back to selling music by album not the download in a video-oriented package with HD audio, HD video, good copy protection with A-list titles at a fair price.

Ironically, the BEST business model I heard over the past decade came from DTS. Before DVD-Audio and SACD, DTS could sell high resolution music on a DVD. 3:1 compression on 5.1 surround with DTS sounds PRETTY damn fantastic compared to MP3 or even CD. How many DVD players were sold to date? Hundreds of millions. How many surround sound systems are there today? Tens of millions? No copy protection problems because ONE digital cable does it all. MAN - selling music on a DVD sounded like a GREAT idea. Add in car audio and the potential for surround in the car and you would have REALLY been cooking with gas. Without DTS leading the way for high resolution surround - the market is lost. It didn't have to be DVD-Audio vs. SACD. It could have been more mainstream.

Gerben Van Duyl 08-17-2007 01:06 AM

Re: A Blueprint For the Future of High-Resolution, 5.1 Music
 
Hi Jerry, I have been a long-time reader (6 yrs or so), just never posted before. You stirred my passion with your call for a renewed future for music in high quality formats.

1 and 2. Yes, we are in agreement. (BTW: FM is alive and kicking in Europe and Oz, maybe less so in the USA.)

3. OK, you caught me out, I am an optimist. I have been in meetings with Studio execs, big cheeses, whose reply to this opportunity for a hi-res surround music download site was: "Great, just what we need! Can iTunes do that for us?" Talk about lack of vision...

So the music industry lets iTunes do it for them. When they come round to it, in about 12 years...

DTS: yes, we were on to a winner, until the majors realised they could do it themselves on DVD-A and SACD and the content deals for DTS dried up. That was the end of that. But thanks for recognising the role DTS played in pioneering surround music. My colleagues will be happy to read that.

Honestly, it would take one large-ish investor with the right knowledge and contacts in the music industry to make this opportunity fly. It would never be as big as MP3-Tunes, but it does not need to be. You answered the question when you asked about the number of surround system installs. Every single one of those is a potential surround music buyer. All they need is an internet connection and a DTS/AC3 decoding chip.

The popularisation of hi-res surround music is the only thing that will keep it alive. The adoption of modern marketing strategies is essential to achieve this popularisation. I don't think it will be done with HD-DVD and BD, it needs to involve digital delivery via the PC. Easy access, instant gratification, tracks rather than albums, low cost, that is how you grow an audience. Album sales will follow.

Kind regards, Gerben Van Duyl

Gerben Van Duyl 08-17-2007 01:34 AM

Re: A Blueprint For the Future of High-Resolution, 5.1 Music
 
PS:

"Apple owns the space and there is little the majors can do to get it back other than to go back to selling music by album not the download in a video-oriented package with HD audio, HD video, good copy protection with A-list titles at a fair price."

Apple own the stereo download space because they are the champions of creating superior user interfaces, in this case in the form of the iPod. When iPod became uber-popular, iTunes ruled the industry.

For surround music there is no iPod, no other user interface than your browser, a library S/W and your surround music system. That is why I believe there is a play here for anyone willing to make the investment. Create the download market space, start the revenue, relief the music labels of making elaborate surround music albums and grow the audience. Hit Play!

Kind regards, Gerben Van Duyl

Bob Ross 08-17-2007 06:50 AM

Re: A Blueprint For the Future of High-Resolution, 5.1 Music
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by AVRevForum.com (Post 1991)
Major labels are sitting on a vault of music that could be a goldmine, but they are incapable of seeing that they can sell it over and over again in various formats, with meaningful changes and added values. Why is it that Microsoft can sell you a new operating system or a copy of MS Office every few years, but Sony Music cannot find a way to meaningfully repackage the Miles Davis catalog? Why is it that EA Sports can sell a copy of Madden Football to millions of gamers and football fans with incremental changes and improvements each year but MCA-Universal cannot find a way to release the Jimi Hendrix catalog on a format that gets you as close as technically possible to the master tape?


Well, there's the flaw in your argument right there.

Do you seriously believe that repackaging the Miles Davis catalog adds anything "meaningful"? Or that releasing Jimi Hendrix in *any* n.1 surround format is somehow closer to the master tape? (Much less releasing Jimi in any digital format...?)

Your premise is heinously skewed towards self-preservation of record labels and equipment manufacturers; it demonstrates no concern for the aesthetics or intentions of the original artists. The reason the public is not interested in yet another format for their music collection is because they're interested in the music first, and the artist second. Anything else is a very distant third.


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 11:17 PM.


© 1996-2008 AVRev.com | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use


SEO by vBSEO 3.6.1