CEA & Major Labels Now Encourage Hi-Res Music Sales – The Consumer Electronics Association and the three remaining major music labels have evidently had a change of heart. They see an opportunity to fight Apple, which owns about 63% of the sales of downloaded music in the U.S., selling only music in terrible, fraction-of-CD-quality. The distribution system which the major labels controlled for so many decades is now literally owned by Apple. The major labels had a press event in New York City and said they are now willing to license their music in larger volumes and in hi-res formats to new players. There will evidently be many new hi-res players introduced. HDTracks and many others online have been highly successful offering HD downloads. Many of the younger generation who have owned only super-low-resolution music their entire lives, are beginning to spend their money on hi-res downloads and appreciating their sounds as the musicians, engineers and performances want them to sound.
Those who can afford super-high-end Kaleidescape gear for their home theater system can create 1080p video and uncompressed hi-res audio from standard DVDs using an interface that’s as good as Apple’s. Even Wal-Mart has a cheap disc-to-digital system to convert older media into new digital formats, even HD. Apple does sell movies in HD thru iTunes, though at a premium price, and perhaps they will add HD music. Some people are no longer buying any music, listening to their music based on mood and genre via streaming services such as Pandora, Spotify and Amazon. But convenience has not always trumped quality. Things have definitely changed, and maybe the major labels have finally gotten the point.
More Consumers Cutting the Cable Cord – A growing number of Americans are choosing to forgo expensive cable or satellite TV in favor of local over-the-air transmissions and streaming video on the Internet—at a fraction of the cost. One consumer said “Once you make the switch, I don’t know why you would want to go back.” This person bought an indoor digital antenna for as little as $8 to tune in free OTA network TV, and with higher definition than the cable service offered. About 95% of Americans still watch TV with traditional cable or satellite options according to Nielsen, but the number of households who have opted out is on the rise, from 2 million in 2007 to 5 million this year. Advances in both streaming technology and faster broadband Internet speeds have made the transition easier than ever. Consumers can get hi-def images and a la carte content with few or no commercials and some streaming allows viewers to watch TV anywhere they go, on their mobile devices. Cord-cutting may not be for everybody, though. If you’re heavily into sports, news or live TV, you may need all those channels. And the premium ones such as HBO and Showtime are only on cable or satellite. Walt Disney is talking about offering its channels thru a Web-TV provider, but if they do it will probably be expensive. The first step in cutting the cord is learning if you get good OTA TV reception where you are. An amazingly large number of people do. You may need an outdoor antenna (remember them?) rather than an indoor one, and possibly even a rotator if the local TV towers are in different directions. If you don’t own a smart TV, you can add a set-top box or dongle to transform your set into one able to pick up Internet outlets. Google has one for only $35. Then there is the Aereo service, offered so far in several cities and expanding. This online subscription service costs $8 to $12 a month, picks up TV signals from local channels, and beams them over the Internet to customers who can watch them streaming live or save them on virtual digital video recorders. Netflix and Hulu Plus are $8 a month and Hulu is free.