It’s great to see classical music leaders like Deutsche Grammophon enter the modern age of digital distribution. Alex Ross wrote a post yesterday highlighting some of the features of this new online store, and I received some correspondence from DG representative Bill Hunt as well. Bill writes:
DG will be the first classical record label to make most of its catalogue available online for download, with 2,400 albums available. The shop will be available in 42 countries – which includes many markets where the major e-business retailers such as iTunes, are not yet available.
Deutsche Grammophon downloads will be available for download in maximum MP3 quality at transfer bit-rate of 320kbps – an audio-level that experts agree is indistinguishable from CD quality audio.
Industry insiders expect strong growth rates for downloading classical music during the coming years. Price Waterhouse Coopers, for example, in its study Global Entertainment and Media Outlook 2006-2010 forecast that digital turnover will triple between 2007 and 2010.
Some interesting highlights to note:
· 2,400 DG albums will be available for download in maximum MP3 quality
· 600 album titles no longer available as CDs will be available and there are more to follow – the goal is to digitize all the great DG recordings to be accessible for download
· Downloads are compatible with all portable devices
· User-friendly, 3-click process for downloading music onto MP3 player for those without downloading experience
The Web Shop forms the final piece to the DG offering, following the successful launch of the new website which attracts 250,000 unique users per month.
Sounds like a good deal to me–note that the tracks will be in MP3 format as opposed to some crusty proprietary locked-down copyright protected nonsense format. This is a very good move on DG’s part, and one that I hope other digital distribution models will continue to follow. Adding copyright protection only hurts honest users, as these protection schemes make files unable to work with all devices and are easily broken by hackers anyway. MP3 remains the universal format for digital music, and it is great to see DG understands this and respects their audience enough to keep this format.
Providing the Deutsche Grammophon as digital downloads is a positive and progressive step, and keeping the files at a high bit-rate ensures that audiophiles will be able to download them without worrying about that ‘tinny’ highly compressed MP3 sound coming through their top-end stereos.
This store will be launching Wednesday, November 28, 2007. I just took a sneak preview tour of the store, and I have to say that I’m quite impressed. The navigation is slick and classy (not a surprise for fans of DG recordings), allowing users to parse data by album, composer, title, and the like. Both CDs and DVDs are being offered in this store (though I’m not clear exactly how the DVD purchase process works), and the audio tracks include an option to listen to a streaming excerpt. Very iTunes-like, with an added classical music sheen. I had no trouble finding my desired music (in my case, Hillary Hahn playing Mozart), and was pleased with related recordings results that the recommendation engine displayed.
There is a lot of detail in this store that classical music fans will really appreciate. Composer and performer biographies (with quotes from various publications), thematic recording sets, and links to artist websites are included within the user interface, making for a very rich user experience. The files are quite large for folks used to downloading from the iTunes Store, and downloads are likely to be an ordeal if one is downloading a lot of tracks. Offering tracks at a high bit-rate (320 kbps instead of the usual 128 kbps) is a very wise move on DG’s part, however, demonstrating that they really understand the priorities of the classical music listening public. I can’t imagine that folks will mind waiting a few extra minutes for considerably higher audio quality.
Check out this video featuring Helene Grimaud talking about the release of the Deutsche Grammophon music store. You can find more promotional videos from DG here.
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- Alex Ross talks about classical music at Googleplex
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