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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Stones Sell Their Catalog Online In Hi-Res

Considering that hi-definition downloads was just something I touched on in a recent post, it's interesting to see that the Rolling Stones are offering their entire catalog of 27 albums digitally online for the first time. What's different is that the albums will be available in full 176.4 or 88.2kHz/24 bit uncompressed form at HDtracks.

The price for these downloads are a premium $19.95 for the 88.2k version, and 29.95 for the 176.4k version, which is quite a jump from the normal $9.99 that you pay for an MP3/AAC download on iTunes or Amazon MP3. HDtracks is no startup in that it already has 5,400 albums and 100,000 customers, but the Stones will be the biggest act in their stable so far.

This is all well and good and it will be an interesting experiment to see just what the sales and revenue will be from this venture, but until a current major artist signs on, we probably really won't know what the appetite is for hi-res tracks. The problem is that not that many artists today actually record at extended sample rates like 88.2, 96, 176.4 or 192k. For artists that recorded their work on analog tape, transfer to any of these digital formats is easy, but that format all but went away about a decade ago.

While it's true that a small contingent of artists still record on tape, it's a dying breed. Tape costs are high, and machine maintenance is higher, which is a limitation to the so-called "audiophile" downloads. But even 44.1kHz/16bit CD quality would be a vast improvement than what we're now used to online. With bandwidth and storage costs going lower all the time, this just might be an idea who's time will soon come.
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2 comments:

Steve Harvey said...

Nice idea. Now we just need to wait for Apple to release the upgraded version of all their players so consumers an actually listen to the files. And are consumers prepared to pay yet again to replace their collection with yet another format?

sculley said...

I'd like to see higher resolution files. My question is: How are consumers going to get the most out of these files? I stream all of my music from my MacBook Pro wirelessly to an Airport Express and then a 3.5 jack goes from that into my amp. I'm wondering if at some point along that pathway the audio gets "dumbed down" to the point where it doesn't matter if I am buying hi-res files or not. I can hear a huge difference between a vinyl record and a CD - there just seems to be more "space." I'd love to see serious advances in this area.

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