Deezer and TidalHi-Fi Streaming Coming to U.S. – Deezer has been in the streaming business longer than any service except Rhapsody, and they are the closest competitor to Spotify, the biggest in the U.S. The Paris-based company reaches listeners in 180 countries but not the U.S. – until now. Deezer will team up with Sonos to offer CD-quality streaming to American homes. You have to have a Sonos account and equipment and pay $20 a month for Deezer Elite. (Spotify and Rdio only cost $10 a month but are only 320 kbps.) Deezer Elite is 1411 kbps FLAC Audio at 16-bit, the same as CDs. It is clearly targeting luxury consumers; the average annual household income of Sonos users is around $100,000.
Tidal is a new service from a Swedish music streaming service, WiMP HiFi. When it launches this fall, it will also charge $20 a month, taking on Deezer. It will offer over 25 million music tracks in lossless quality, delivering FLAC to Android devices and ALAC to Apple devices. They will also have lower bitrate versions for data-conscious mobile users. Tidal will also offer over 75,000 HD music videos and editorial content. Their CEO said “…music fans now demand more from their music service.” and “We are catering to people who really appreciate the quality things in life…” YouTube now usually streams 192 kbps AAC audio and Pandora streams only 64k AAC+ for its free streaming and 192kbps for its Pandora One paid subscribers ($5 a month, $36 a year for ad-free streaming). (But Pandora doesn’t have as many tunes in their library as the others.) The big deal is whether audiophiles will pay $20 a month for CD-quality streaming without commercials. Customers who pay for premium services create more revenue than the people who consume their music on the free streaming services, but there are only about 25 million doing that, and up to 400 million listening to free ad-supported streaming. The vast majority of streaming users stay on the free ad-supported versions.
Classical News – The new rightest government in Belgium has made dramtic cuts to culture in its new budget. The famed La Monnaie opera theater has to cut personnel expenses by 20% now and 30% by 2019. Composer Stephen Paulus has died at age 65. His 40-year output comprised hundreds of works, many performed during his lieftime, including several operas. Auditions for concertmaster for the New York Philharmonic continue, with Frank Huang of the Houston Symphony and Erin Keefe of the Minnesota Orchestra among the several candidates being considered.
Classical Mystery Tour Band – is one of the many bands celebrating the music of the four Liverpool lads. They’re been together 18 years and appear on pop symphony programs where they strive for musical authenticity in performing with the orchestra. That means using a string quartet for “Yesterday,” a string octet in “Eleanor Rigby” and a piccolo trumpet in “Penny Lane.”