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Just some musings...

It's probably impossible to generalize about this, as projects likely take
many different pathways to release as downloads, but it seems like "mastered
for iTunes," as a quality oriented process vs. a simple run-through, is
actually more time and effort intensive than exporting a project as
nativeKHz/24bit files. Yet, the iTunes stuff is cheaper. Are content owners
willing to absorb higher production cost just to appear on iTunes?

Is the bulk of the Apple Store's old-catalog inventory ripped from 1st or
2nd generation CDs? Did they hire teenagers to do that at minimum wage? The
differential seems excessive. If quality costs 14 bucks minimum, how can
anything exist for 5 or less, given fixed costs for licensing, etc? (I don't
use iTunes, so correct my retail cost assumption if necessary.)

If downloads are still a low-profit or unprofitable factor in the quality
market, it is interesting that it is still physical stuff that is supporting
that end of the market. Support is the wrong word - exemplifying, maybe. The
Dead thing demonstrates there is money to be made sometimes. In the old
days, that profit would accrue to a label, that would then use some of it to
support other projects, as most recordings were not profitable. Doesn't look
like that mechanism can exist anymore if the atomized business model puts
every project on its own. Whatever, we antiquarians should hope there is
more life in physical product than we have lately been expecting.

Old catalog is the product of an industrial model that no longer functions,
yet it is still encumbered by that model. Apparently, it will exist as
high-quality/high-cost or as low-quality/low cost, with a substantial gap
between.

Most new music recordings are created outside the old industrial model. They
are evolving their own profit expectations and means of distribution
independent of those dominated by the past, using a vastly cheaper means of
production to provide both quality and cost conditioned by a market that is
increasingly impoverished and whose sense of value is influenced by
virtually no-cost content (cf. Jaron Lanier). It's a thumb in the eye of an
industry that cannot or will not respond to the new reality. Recordings can
return to being a compliment to the live performance, rather than its
replacement. This can be a means of breaking the conceptual stranglehold
with which the past limits the present. The past casts a long shadow over
the future, which is taking some time to move beyond.

-----Original Message-----
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Tom Fine
Sent: Tuesday, October 01, 2013 9:01 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Compact Discs with lossy compression

I'm assuming Jamie was referring to a filthy-rich hedgefund guy who's also
an audiophile. His point was, the guy was willing to pay extra for better
audio quality. We already see in the LP market that a healthy niche can
exist for people willing to pay more for perceived "better" quality. In the
LP niche, I would argue it's as much for the cachet and the nice packaging
(a real artifact, as opposed to a cheap-looking commodity product) as for
the allegedly "better" sound quality.

There does seem to be an emerging niche for higher-quality digital audio,
but most of the excitement is in the now-tiny download niche. For the
mainstream market, despite wishes by some of us for things to be otherwise,
there simply is not the production budget or profit margin to "do things
great", at almost any stage of the process. This is especially true with
reissue material, which has a limited end market. Comparing the market for a
deluxe Grateful Dead reissue to the market for less-popular (with today's
buyers) Duane Eddy is comparing apples and oranges. No reissue producer in
his right mind is going to spend very much money putting together a Duane
Eddy greatest hits single-CD. He will likely make a very slim margin on it,
as is.