Universal Pure Audio Blu-ray Releases – Universal Music is now promoting and distributing its “HFPA” series of hi-res products (High Fidelity Pure Audio), using Blu-ray technology (since the penetration of Blu-ray players is higher than that for SACD decks). Universal calls it “the ultimate listening experience to the user.” Due to the increased storage size and bandwidth available via Blu-ray, music can now be offered without the compression required for standard 16-bit audio releases and other even lower-res digital formats. Users have a choice of different audio formats, including DTS-HD Master Audio at 5.1 channels, Dolby True HD and PCM stereo. A download voucker included with each disc allows consumers to get a digital copy of the album in MP3 format in order to access the music on devices that don’t support hi-res audio. The vast selection of pop, classical and jazz includes such names as Nirvana, Queen, The Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, Roland Villazon, Herbert von Karajan, John Coltrane and Oscar Peterson. More information at www.universalmusic.com
Sci-Fi Video Series Depicts Cybercrime in 2020 – Trend Micro, one of many current anti-virus protection companies, has launched a series of five-minute episodes of a straight-to-video series titled 2020. It can be viewed free online. The series extrapolates how cybercrime may escalate a mere seven years from now. A French company, Black Rabbit, wrote the script, hired actors of six nationalities and filmed the series in Warsaw. They tried to fit in as many plot twists as they could in the nine episodes, including how a low-level programmer could take down the national infrastructure.
David Byrne Disses Streaming Music Services – Singer-songwriter David Byrne leveled criticism at streaming music services in an essay for The Guardian, saying that the new music landscape will leech away creative content from the world. He says “…why would you ever buy a CD or pay for a download when you can stream your favorite albums and artists either for free, or for a nominal monthly charge?” He noted that Spotify is the second largest source of revenue of digital music for labels in Europe, but such streaming services may result in padded pockets for the labels, not for the artists. He points out that a four-person band receiving a 15% royalty from Spotify streams would need 236,549,020 streams to secure an annual minimum wage of $15,080. He says, “…it seems to me that the whole model is unsustainable as a means of supporting creative work of any kind. Not just music.”
Sphinx Virtuosi: New Faces of Classical Music – The Sphinx Virtuosi would like to change the sounds of classical music, but also to change the genre’s complexion. They say less than 4% of American orchestra as black and Latino combined, but since the inception of the 18-member conductorless ensemble, the number African-Americans in major U.S. orchestras has doubled. The group’s current program is titled “Dialogue Between Two Eras,” and features music by Baroque composers and 20th-century composers influenced by them. That includes Samuel Coleridge-Taylor—dubbed “the African Mahler”—and Astor Piazzolla, who was heavily influenced by J.S. Bach. (They don’t work with Asian musicians because they say Asians are actually over-represented in classical music relative to their population as a whole.)