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A Blueprint For the Future of High-Resolution, 5.1 Music Print E-mail
Monday, 13 August 2007
Article Index
A Blueprint For the Future of High-Resolution, 5.1 Music
Page 2

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.

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