I just paid my first visit to The Philadelphia Orchestra Online Music Store on the recommendation of my friend John Grillo. This, to me, is an example of a musical organization really offering a progressive product.
Why is this a better model for an orchestra than simply selling music through iTunes, eMusic, or other such online distributor? Well, for one thing, most online stores sell music in what is called a lossy format (MP3 is a good example of a lossy format). Music in a lossy format is highly compressed (around 1/10 the file size of the original file), making distribution easier over the internet but compromising sound quality. This compromise in sound quality isn’t a big deal when listening to Britney Spears or whatever garbage d’jour is popular in pop music, but most classical music fans tend to be audiophiles, and compressed formats are not acceptable to such folks. The compromises made in compressing music are more readily apparent on the high-end stereo systems found in the homes of many classical music fans.
The Philadelphia Orchestra is selling their music in a lossless format called FLAC. With FLAC, there is some reduction in file size but no reduction in audio quality. This means that the files are huge (be prepared to sit and wait for a while when downloading these puppies), but also at maximum fidelity.
Also, there is no DRM (digital rights management) within these files. DRM is digital copy protection, and it is one of the biggest pains with modern technology. No DRM means that you can transfer these files between various devices as you see fit (unlike songs downloaded from iTunes, for example). This is very progressive and very cool on the part of The
Read more about these developments on this blog post.