Newsletter August 2004

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It’s been a quiet July around here, although the August summer season is brightened by gigs from

  • Sarah Jane Morris July 23-August 19 (touring Italy, full details from her Web site)
  • Lene Lovich, London August 7/8
  • Genya Ravan, New York August 31

There is no new writing on the site, just a few nips and tucks here and there (and you’re not supposed to notice that sort of thing).  However, after a complete site scrub and refresh over the last three months, we find ourselves with more than 700 pages of high-density stuff.  Once we know where our new CDs are going, there will be a further onslaught of bits.

And thanks for coming over.  Even with the northern summer in full cry, you’re arriving in the same numbers as in January.  We must be doing something right.  If you agree or disagree, please let us know.

We’re also holding off with paid download offerings while we sort out new affiliates.  In days past, we offered all tracks through Liquid Audio (at 80 US cents, no more), but off they went and imploded and then caught WalMart as a client so that was that.  They’re a long way from the world of their Grateful Dead-related founders.

The worst thing about the present situation is the incompatibility of just about all major formats with each other.  Notably, the iTunes store only downloads for the iPod (although this classic device can now be used with both Macintosh and Windows platforms and you can play most non-copy protected files on it, including full-bandwidth CD).  Sony, in their infinite wisdom, have just come up with a totally exclusive format, while Microsoft are rumbling and will shortly deliver in their tardy, elephantine style.

The issue is copy-protection, an idea whose time doesn’t appear to have come.  For example, you can buy a download for your iPod.  It will arrive in AAC format (mp4, or MPEG 4, a sonic improvement over the ubiquitous mp3 for the same file size).  All players can read AAC, but the copy protection rules out players from other download sales centers.

Paid downloads have been getting enormous press recently, but are still a tiny fraction of the recorded music business.  If we don’t see broader standards emerge, so that we can play all the eTunes, it won’t go much further and purchases will be frozen in one technical place.  Mind how you go…..

We have a very extensive Help section at the Stereo Society, in simple non-nerd language, but pressure of work means we haven’t updated in a couple of years.  We hope to fix it soon.

Continue to enjoy the summer or the winter, wherever you are…..