DG opens online store for DRM-less downloads
Dec 3, 2007 at 5:11 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 14

kerelybonto

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Deutsche Grammophon has opened a new online store offering 320kbps, DRM-less MP3s for download. Tracks start at $1.29, or the same number of euro for customers in most locations other than America (although it looks like you can choose your country, so perhaps everyone can benefit from the weak dollar), with prices rising as tracks go over seven minutes. Looks like downloading the whole "CD" sometimes saves you some cash over buying tracks piecemeal, but the prices in most cases don't look much lower than what you can find the CDs for.

PDFs of the liner notes are included, which is a welcome addition, and some out-of-print material is supposed to be available. I'd be grateful if someone more familiar with DG's catalogue would add his thoughts. ...

Eric

Edited for clarity on pricing.
 
Dec 3, 2007 at 5:44 PM Post #2 of 14

Duggeh

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No lossless, no sale. I want high quality downloads like LinnRecords do. Sorry DGG, but think about your target market before you foul up like this.
 
Dec 3, 2007 at 8:28 PM Post #3 of 14

vcoheda

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^^^ x2. lossless/WAV that i can copy to a CDR and play on my CD player. anything else isn't worth my time or money.
 
Dec 3, 2007 at 10:00 PM Post #4 of 14

kerelybonto

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I don't buy any lossy music either and agree that DG should be mindful that its constituency is likely much more attuned to audio quality than the typical iTunes or Amazon MP3 customer. So, yeah, I get you on the lack of lossless. (I think there are some arguments to be made that lossless is still not ready for downloadable prime-time, though, but I'll leave that for another discussusion.)

A couple other things I'll note for those that don't follow all of this stuff -- DG is a subsidiary of Universal Music Group, itself owned by Vivendi, which is in a bit of a row with Apple over its unwillingness to let the content companies set pricing on the iTunes Music Store. So the DG online store is part of Vivendi's move to bypass Apple in selling its content online. DG's price points reflect this ($1.29 was the price for DRM-free tracks on the iTMS before Apple reduced them to $0.99 in response to Amazon MP3's launch). It'll be interesting to see whether the site gets the attention it'll need to be successful or whether it turns out to be more of a bargaining chip.

I'd really like to hear whether there's anything available on the site that's worth buying but unavailable on CD from somebody who knows the DG catalogue better than I.

Eric
 
Dec 4, 2007 at 2:33 AM Post #6 of 14

FalconP

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Not a good sign if you ask me. This may mean that out-of-print classics are less likely to be revived in a physical form. Old DG CDs are fetching blackmail prices in the used market, and mortals like me are praying for reissues -- but not as sound files.
 
Dec 4, 2007 at 5:13 AM Post #7 of 14

LFF

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Bad news. DG has some quality titles and outstanding recordings. Until they release their stuff in FLAC, APE or WAV - I'm not buying.
 
Dec 4, 2007 at 1:13 PM Post #8 of 14

Rlynn

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This is confusing to me. Maybe the marketing people aren't talking to the recording engineers? Surely I'm not the only classical lover whose CD player doesn't play MP3s. Why would I want to spend several thousand more dollars for equipment to play something of lesser quality?
 
Dec 4, 2007 at 2:21 PM Post #9 of 14

Febs

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Rlynn /img/forum/go_quote.gif
This is confusing to me. Maybe the marketing people aren't talking to the recording engineers? Surely I'm not the only classical lover whose CD player doesn't play MP3s. Why would I want to spend several thousand more dollars for equipment to play something of lesser quality?


Why would you need to spend several thousand more dollars for equipment? Just burn the MP3s to CD. Obviously, the quality will be no higher than the MP3, but as long as your CD player plays CD-Rs, this should not be an expensive proposition.
 
Dec 4, 2007 at 6:30 PM Post #10 of 14

kerelybonto

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Quote:

Originally Posted by FalconP /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Not a good sign if you ask me. This may mean that out-of-print classics are less likely to be revived in a physical form. Old DG CDs are fetching blackmail prices in the used market, and mortals like me are praying for reissues -- but not as sound files.


CDs are just sound files on a piece of plastic. If you're saying you won't pay for lossy copies, fine -- so have we all. But if you mean you won't pay for any sort of downloaded music, you're kinda missing the boat.

Downloads are the future, and increasingly the now. In my view, the greatest potential benefit of online distribution for us consumers -- especially for us listeners of classical music -- is that it allows the labels to sell all the recordings they have in their collection that they can't financially justify pressing to CD. Once the recording's been made, there are virtually no additional costs in selling them online. This means the labels can more readily adapt their business models to the long tail. And make no mistake, that's us -- classical music in general is a niche market, and if you're the sort who seeks out out-of-print recordings, you especially should be embracing this.

So, yes, this is a step in the direction of "out-of-print classics [being] less likely to be revived in a physical form." But it's also a step towards being able to buy any recording ever made and not having to hold out hopes for reissues that are unlikely ever to come.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rlynn /img/forum/go_quote.gif
This is confusing to me. Maybe the marketing people aren't talking to the recording engineers? Surely I'm not the only classical lover whose CD player doesn't play MP3s. Why would I want to spend several thousand more dollars for equipment to play something of lesser quality?


Yeah, you gotta hope DG figures out that its customers want high-quality audio formats -- i.e., lossless. But I don't really get your comments on the CD player. If we can get lossless downloads, what's the downside versus CDs? The digital data is the same, and you avoid the problem of trying to resolve it precisely from a spinning disk in real time as it plays. No more expensive transports needed (if they even are with CDs nowadays anyway). Don't fret about your sunk costs -- be grateful you'll never need to drop a couple grand on a CD player again.

Because, you see, burning to CD is, again, missing the point. If you haven't yet discovered the considerable advantages of storing your music on a hard-drive and organizing and playing your music with a browser-type software player, then you're not getting any of the benefits and no wonder you're perplexed. But the benefits are there, and if we can only get DRM-less, lossless downloads, then there really aren't any disadvantages. Are there?

Eric
 
Dec 4, 2007 at 9:14 PM Post #11 of 14

krmathis

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Duggeh /img/forum/go_quote.gif
No lossless, no sale. I want high quality downloads like LinnRecords do. Sorry DGG, but think about your target market before you foul up like this.


x2
I am never going to pay for lossy music. Hopefully more online stores and record companies realize this and make music available in lossless format.
 
Dec 5, 2007 at 12:54 AM Post #12 of 14

Rlynn

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Febs /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Why would you need to spend several thousand more dollars for equipment? Just burn the MP3s to CD. Obviously, the quality will be no higher than the MP3, but as long as your CD player plays CD-Rs, this should not be an expensive proposition.


I guess I didn't have enough coffee this morning before I posted that.
tongue.gif
My CD player, not all that old, doesn't decode MP3s. It's an Arcam which seems to be a pretty popular mid-priced unit. So I would have to transcode the MP3s to WAV, which I hadn't thought about. I was thinking more about a hard drive based system and a new DAC.

On a more positive note, one of the articles I read about DG said that the engineers were hoping to release some recordings for download in better sound quality than CD could deliver. Now that is something to pay for.
 
Dec 5, 2007 at 2:29 AM Post #13 of 14

Rlynn

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Quote:

Originally Posted by kerelybonto /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Yeah, you gotta hope DG figures out that its customers want high-quality audio formats -- i.e., lossless. But I don't really get your comments on the CD player. If we can get lossless downloads, what's the downside versus CDs? The digital data is the same, and you avoid the problem of trying to resolve it precisely from a spinning disk in real time as it plays. No more expensive transports needed (if they even are with CDs nowadays anyway). Don't fret about your sunk costs -- be grateful you'll never need to drop a couple grand on a CD player again.

Because, you see, burning to CD is, again, missing the point. If you haven't yet discovered the considerable advantages of storing your music on a hard-drive and organizing and playing your music with a browser-type software player, then you're not getting any of the benefits and no wonder you're perplexed. But the benefits are there, and if we can only get DRM-less, lossless downloads, then there really aren't any disadvantages. Are there?

Eric



I always fret about sunk costs, but if I weren't, how would I go about replacing my CD based system? I'm guessing it would be with some kind of music server which would involve running network lines in my old house. The dedicated ones I've seen are not inexpensive. The only "browser" in the living room with my stereo equipment is my work laptop. Right now it seems much more convenient to buy a CD and pop in the player.
 
Dec 5, 2007 at 9:33 PM Post #14 of 14

kerelybonto

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Sure, Rlynn, it seems more convenient to you right now, but soon it probably won't. There are already easy, fairly cheap ways to do this, though, yes, you do need a computer in your listening room. (Actually, that's not strictly true.) But you don't have to run any cable -- today's wireless networks provide more than ample bandwidth to pipe losslessly encoded CD-audio streams around the house.

One really easy way to do this is with Apple's AirPort Express wireless hub, which has a digital S/PDIF output -- plug it into the wall by your stereo, plug in your DAC, and you're ready to go. The cool thing about doing something like this is that you can also plug in another AirPort Express by your listening chair, in your bedroom, or wherever, and just have a small headphone DAC and amp there so you won't be tethered to your main rig when you're listening to headphones. See Stereophile's review from more than two years ago for some more info on this, and definitely browse around and ask questions in Head-Fi's Computer Audio forum if it interests you.

I guess I'm just trying to point out that there really are benefits to giving up the CD experience. For me, living in a small apartment, simply not having to have all the CDs on hand is worth it. But it's also great to be able to put some tunes on a portable player to take with me, and to be able to organize and browse all my music in a program like iTunes. I think you'll quickly grasp what the computer route has going for it when you get the chance to play around with a well set-up computer-based rig. If that doesn't happen for a while, no problem -- keep buying and using CDs until you're convinced or until your CD-player needs replacing. When you do finally switch over, all you have to do is rip alll your CDs to a hard-drive and you've got everything you had before, but with a whole lot more flexibility.

But back to the topic: it really would be great if DG ends up offering lossless CD-equivalent audio or even recordings at better than CD quality. Duggeh's mention of Linn's online music store is on target. They've done some neat stuff with hi-rez offerings. If DG can do something like that, we'd be most of the way there.

But I noted earlier that I don't think lossless is quite ready for widespread downloading yet. Part of the problem is just bandwidth, but more important are the formats. Portable devices seem to support only one or the other of the two big ones, FLAC and ALAC. Obviously portables aren't the target market for lossless, but iTunes' lack of support for FLAC, coupled with everyone else's avoidance of ALAC in an effort to hold back Apple, means that there isn't really a format that a lot of people will be able to download and have "just work." And downloads are, first, about convenience.

Still, you gotta start somewhere, and it would make sense for someone like DG to get out in front on lossless. The rise of computers as music hubs has brought with it insouciance about sound quality, and a discerning market niche like the classical music crowd is the right place to start the process of bringing things back around. We can have both convenience and quality ... if someone will sell it to us.

Eric
 

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