Audio News for August 11, 2007

by | Aug 11, 2007 | Audio News | 0 comments

Universal To Sell All Downloads DRM-free – For a test period of August 21 to January 31, the world’s largest music company will offer all of its music downloads online without the anti-piracy software that restricts their use, causes technical problems – and in the case of Apple’s iTunes downloads, prevents them from being played back on any devices except Apple’s own iPods and iPhones. Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Amazon.com are partners with Universal in the venture, but Apple’s iTunes music store is excluded. Universal says this is a test to see how both sales and piracy rates would be affected by their selling the MP3 files without digital rights management. Universal had already refused long term distribution through iTunes. It’s ironic that this development – as well as EMI’s decision in April to sell its digital music files without DRM and with higher resolution on iTunes and elsewhere – probably grows out of Apple’s Steve Jobs’ speech some time ago urging the top recording conglomerates to remove the digital handcuffs that prevent people from sharing their music. This move brings pressure on the other two music biggies, Sony/BMG and Warner Brothers, to follow suit.

Wal-Mart Wants to Rule Consumer Electronics Sales – Wal-Mart currently ranks as No. 2 in national sales of home electronics after Best Buy, and intends to increase sales in this area between 10% and 12%, using its familiar low-price tactics. One area where Wal-Mart is behind specialists in CE such as Best Buy and Circuit City is in customer service and tech staffings, but it has taken some steps to improve this situation.  Wal-Mart does not offer in-home service, delivery and setup as do the other two chains.

Oscars Bans Providing CDs of Soundtrack Scores
– The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has prohibited the mailing out of music CDs and related materials to Oscar judges charged with selection of the best original movie score and best original song for a movie. The action, which may be just a test, was taken because of their concerns that the flood of CDs sent out by studios made it tempting for members to evaluate the music separate from the films, on their home audio systems or in their cars. They felt the music would then be listened to out of context and voted solely on the basis of the soundtrack CD rather than how the music worked with the images on the screen.  Mailing of music videos of eligible songs as well as scores and sheet music are also banned according to the new rules. Some industry experts fear the ruling could hurt small films and scores by new and unknown film composers. Some films have only a few selections by the credited soundtrack composer, while the majority of the soundtrack consists of already-existing cuts of pop or classical genres. One publicist feels a judge going by the film alone might thus unfairly credit or discredit the composer with music he didn’t write. There are 236 members of the music branch who select the nominees, with the ultimate Oscar winners selected by the membership at large.

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