A Brief Q&A With Other Music

I sent an email to "technical support" at Other Music regarding their WAV offerings and got a very pleasant response and had a brief but interesting exchange with Gerald Hammill (Other Music Webmaster) that I think is worth sharing. Without further ado...

Here's most of the exchange verbatim (I've only edited out some of my irrelevant comments and the niceties of email salutations and signatures) in chrono order:

I noticed the SQUAREPUSHER album "Ufabulum" was available as a WAV download and my question is - are you planning to offer more music as WAV downloads? Also, is there a way to view the other albums available in WAV format?

Thanks for the email and support. We only offer WAV files for a select number of downloads in our web store -- the demand is still pretty minimal and with the file size being so large, the added server cost for storage wouldn't justify the amount of WAV files that we sell. That said, much of the Warp catalog does have a WAV option, as do occasional exclusive downloads that we offer. Feel free to drop me a line if you have any other questions.

I do have a follow-up question - What would you attribute the minimal demand for WAV files to be based on?

Here are a few ideas/options but I'd be very curious to understand your point of view on this.

a) a lack of understanding regarding the difference between a WAV file and a lossy compressed file
b) people generally just don't care about the difference in sound quality
c) MP3s are smaller so more of them can fit
d) all of the above
e) something else?

Good question, and I'm probably going to choose all of the above, as I'm sure different people have different reasons. I do think that for most it would be the file size -- especially for those who are doing most of their listening on an iPod or iPhone (or similar device), factor into this that they're also probably listening on tinny white earbuds. I do think part of it is education. I'm just making an assumption here, but I figure that mp3 is a term everyone is familiar with and comfortable with, so that's a format they're going to go with, even when given an option (unless you're a DJ or audiophile). I also think cost is a factor too, as we do add a $4.99 surcharge to WAV albums to help offset the storage cost. And given the choice between a $9.99 album download and a $14.98 album that is higher quality, the 320kbps mp3 is still a good quality download and what most of our download store customers choose.

I do think Other Music's philosophy is similar to yours. All of us are music fans and collectors, and certainly attached to the physical format. Still, it's impossible to not be excited as fans to be able to discover so much music so easily, thanks to technology and the internet, and the convenience to take it with you where ever you go, even if an mp3 isn't going to have the same dynamic range as a WAV or a nice slab of vinyl. Ultimately, it doesn't matter what format people use, as long as people are listening and exploring, and, of course, artists are getting paid.

-Gerald Hammill (Other Music Webmaster)

kavon yarrum's picture

Thanks Michael.

Great exchange.

Still leaves some nagging questions. 

Why not use FLAC/ALAC so you can save up to 60% on file size and storage cost??????

Am I missing something here????


The "all of the above" answers confirms what I and some others have said...we are the 1%. The fact is "lossless" files are to the music business what truffles, grass fed beef, and organic produce are to the restaraunt business. It is for a small, select group of informed customers. 

Corporations pay their bills stuffing over fed, fat Americans with high volume, low quality crap like bread sticks, heavy sauces, and deep fried frozen proteins.  They DON'T pay bills oferring low demand, inconvenient, and expensive ingredient based fare.

Michael Lavorgna's picture

...to Gerald and he'll get back with some answers hopefully sometime tomorrow.

One interesting point that someone brought up in the Comments in another post is the question of why pay for MP3s when you can stream the same quality for free from services like MOG. Sure, they don't have everything but they got a lot.

Which leads me to wonder when CD-quality streaming becomes more common, why buy CD-quality music in any form?

kavon yarrum's picture


Well, those are good additional questions..but a simple answer is what if you want to play "CD Quality"  music in your main system or some place else where there IS no computer or internet connection

Others may feel differently, but I would prefer to "own" my files and play them when I want, where I want, and how I want.

Michael Lavorgna's picture

In the "main music system"? Is that even possible?


kavon yarrum's picture

possible! but even with an internet connection, i would not want to rely on a here today gone tomorrow streaming services. 

and then we open up the can of worms, assuming your hypothetical of lossless streaming exsisted, of how did they their rips, file format, incorrect metadata, etc.


Michael Lavorgna's picture

If I stuck to CD-quality downloads versus streaming. I'll be reporting on an existing CD-quality streaming service soon as well as a soft launch of another...

...and then we open up the can of worms, assuming your hypothetical of lossless streaming exsisted, of how did they their rips, file format, incorrect metadata, etc.

The easiest example is to imagine MOG offering CD-quality streaming. In other words, access to millions of CD-quality albums for $X/month. So "here today gone tomorrow" is a non-issue since you pay per month. Using current pricing, we're looking at a monthly fee equal to the cost of 2 or 3 CDs yet you can listen 24/7 to as many albums as you like. And these services do not rip the music they offer, they get it directly from the labels and since we're talking about a streaming service, file format is irrelevant.

Regarding metadata, you are not "buying" CDs you are listening to them whenever you want. So if you want more information about what you're listening to than the streaming service provides, you'd have to look it up.

kavon yarrum's picture

Got it. That clarifies a lot. Thank you.

I am extremely open minded about all this. I think the premise of a lossless streaming service would have some appeal. 

But I still have a nagging feeling that most people are ok with lossy streaming.

Or another way to put it, is that there is no way these services will pay the bills if they are counting on audiophiles to be their customers.

Lastly, I come from one of the last generations that still like to purchase, collect, and trade music. 



Michael Lavorgna's picture

The notion that “most people” have some fixed notion regarding sound quality is to my mind an oversimplification of the issue.

I believe we’re talking about chickens, eggs, and omelets.

deckeda's picture

... you saved me the effort! I also look forward to the FLAC answer. 

Regarding FLAC I'll speculate:

1) The WAVs are provided, and therefore FLACs are simply persona non grata.

2) Related to #1, Other Music likely doesn't have permission to just create whatever files they want to offer, for whatever reason. 

3) Related to #2, all streams (no pun intended, heh) lead back to the sea to the labels.

Regarding the WAV surchage I think what Mr. Hammill is saying is, the tipping point's not there yet. They need more early adopters, paying "too much," to justify later adopters paying "enough" or even "too little" for lossless, because their ISP isn't charging them by the GB used but with a set bandwidth allotment each month that doesn't yet justify being placed in a higher tier.