Phoenix Rises From Ashes – Some time ago the German record label Delta Music declared bankruptcy. They owned the classical label Capriccio, though it only contributed 12% to 15% of the sales for Delta. The artistic director at Capriccio started on May 1 a new high end classical label, Phoenix Edition. The derivation of the new name is clear. Phoenix Edition is now an independent, separated label, with great plans for future recording sessions. Capriccio continues as a sublabel of Delta Music. Phoenix is partnered with the WDR, NDR, Deutschlandradio Kultur, the Deutsche Oper Berlin and Vienna’s Volksoper. The label is also planning DVDs of operas by Krenek and Kurt Weill. Some of the instrumental releases will be Schnittke’s piano concertos, piano sonatas by Boely and Shostakovich’s cello concertos. Naxos is handling distribution, and Audiophile Audition is already reviewing some of the Phoenix Edition recordings.
One-Fourth of Entire Music Market is Now iTunes – A NPD Group study recently released determined that Apple’s iTunes makes up one-fourth of the entire music market in the United States, with physical media (CDs) comprising a constantly falling 64%. Digital music – if this trend continues – will take over physical media in early 2011. 70% of digital music sales at Amazon, Rhapsody, Napster and other digital services is iTunes. While big in the U.S., iTunes may soon have some competition from a Swedish service called Spotify, which is negotiating to release its service in the U.S. Spotify allows users to stream nearly four million tracks with no fee, but they are required to listen to one 20-second advertisement every 30 minutes.
4K – the Next Movie Resolution Enhancement – Sony Electronics’ Digital Cinema Systems Division has signed deals with top theater chains Regal and AMC to install thousands of their Sony 4K systems, which offer 4096 x 2160 pixels resolution instead of the 2048 x 1080 pixels resolution of 2K technology – which is roughly similar to 1080p HD display in the home. Well over 500 theaters have already installed 4K systems, and the figure is expected to reach 1000 by the end of this year. With the two new theater chains, the total number of planned 4K screens will be about 11,000.
The 4K system has many advantages. Of course all the projectors can also handle 2K files. Audiences closer to the screen (many theaters have seats much closer to the screen now than was done in the past) will see a huge improvement in detail and resolution, with absolutely no pixelization. The proponents of 4K point out to theater exhibitors that 2K projection has exactly the same number of vertical pixels as the HDTV many people now have in their homes, and just 4% more horizontal pixels. So people can enjoy nearly identical resolution at home, and exhibitors’ investment in 4K digital cinema projection will be a bet against the relentless advance of digital technology.
The flexibility and scalability of the system also allows for a pair of 2K images to be continuously projected side-by-side for the left and right-eye images for 3D. Sony has joined forces with RealD 3D and has a single-projector 3D lens that makes display of 3D films easier and better. They expect to have over 500 Sony 3D systems set up by the end of the year, becoming a leader in 3D presentation. They also expect it to become more common in the next few years for special live events to be delivered to theaters in 4K. Three major studio motion pictures, released within a month of one another, were just made available to theaters for 4K digital projection.