Digital Music's New 5-Step Plan?

M. C. Escher Relativity (1953)

From Ars Technica:

May 23 2012, 9:15am EDT: Op-ed: New digital music licenses good for fans, entrepreneurs, Five new licenses could make it easier to launch online music companies by Cary Sherman (RIAA), David Israelite (National Music Publishers Association), Lee Knife (Digital Media Association)
What have we here? An answer to our digital music distribution needs? Will people be able to buy that HD download from whomever they want no matter where they live? Not so fast cowboy:
In the coming weeks, federal royalty judges will consider and likely approve one of the more important advances in digital music licensing we have seen in many years. Representatives of songwriters, music publishers, record companies, and digital music services have struck an agreement, pending federal approval, that will simplify the licensing burdens for digital music and enable a series of new and exciting business models. This agreement would write into regulations a standard licensing rate that the operators of these new business models could take advantage of without having to negotiate with every publisher individually. (And considering that there are many thousands of publishers, that’s a big benefit.) Digital music services always have the option of pursuing private negotiations if they prefer; the choice is theirs.
So what are these "new and exciting business models"? I clipped and condensed these from the article:

1. Paid locker services. Subscription-based lockers like iTunes Match.
2. Locker functionality without a subscription for music that is purchased.
3. Digital services that offer music bundled together with other music or non-music products.
4. Subscription-streaming services that offer more than radio, but less than full catalog, on-demand listening.
5. On-demand streaming for certain genres or playlists.

Hmm. I suppose any step is a step in the right direction and simpler distribution plans may open the door for more music delivery channels but these 5 new and exciting business models sure seem old and not so exciting. Maybe I'm missing something? And as some commenter's have pointed out on Ars Technica, for #2 why would you have to pay a licensing fee to store music you bought?

kavon yarrum's picture

When i say who cares, i refer those of us who are only intereted in lossless music.

All these machiniations are strictly goign to apply to compressed formats.

I am still waiting for universal FLAC downloads,.

I have spent the last week frustrated looking for Redbook FLAC downloads of the latest albums from Jason Mraz, Rufus Wainwright, and Luka Bloom with zero luck. It is either the CD or mp3.

Same for Norah Jones and Santana.

Michael Lavorgna's picture

I have spent the last week frustrated looking for Redbook FLAC downloads of the latest albums from Jason Mraz, Rufus Wainwright, and Luka Bloom with zero luck. It is either the CD or mp3.

You could have bought the CDs, ripped 'em, and sold 'em by now ;-)

(of course AudioStream does not condone doing anything wrong)

kavon yarrum's picture

Just what I need, to start a FLAC downloading service and then have an army of record company lawyers on my butt!!!! No thanks.

The fact is whatever "agreements" these suit and ties make are meaningless to most.

You can stream millions of songs for free from Spotify, Pandora etc.

Also, I fully admit I download mp3 albums from Piratebay and then I buy the CD if I like it. 

i did this with the aforementioned Waingright, Mraz, and Santana albums, and hundreds more. I delete them when the cd arrives. I have saved my self thousands of dollars by being able to hear albums in their entirety. There have been so many turds I could have potentially bought.  The Black Keys album is perfect example. What a bunch of hipster fake blues rock. Eghhh.

I buy more then enough of my share that I don't lose a nano second of sleep.

Michael Lavorgna's picture

I didn't mean rip and sell the rip, I meant rip and sell the CD. As far as I know, it is legal to rip a CD you own. It’s the selling of the CD part after the rip I'm unsure about.

For the music I'm interested in, I can almost always find samples to listen to, legally.

kavon yarrum's picture

I would have no interest in selling any CD I have purchased unless it has been supplanted by a superior mastering. I have over 4000.

Unlike many, I am music CONSUMER. I consumer music in recorded form, in the live trading community, and by attending live music events. Norah coming up!!!

There was a hillarious thread on the Asylum about a guy who took CDs from his local library and was asking about the "legality" of ripping to his server. He was eventually bullied into believing he was stealing. The little wimp claimied he deleted the files. In my opinion, how pathetic. With all the billions that are stolen by the financial services industries and all the crimes that major corporations commit daily this is a crime?

I rip CDs from my library all the time. My tax dollars bough those discs. I routinely pay fines..willingly! The artist has been paid.

Intersting topic. Sorry to go Lewis Black on you..a bit too much wine.

Michael Lavorgna's picture

For me, the idea that I'm supporting a musician by buying their music is reason enough to always buy the music I want to own (unless its not for sale ;-). I consider this a privilege.

joelha's picture


Seriously, you're not sure whether it's o.k. to sell a CD after you've ripped it?

I couldn't make a copy of Stereophile and then sell the original?

If everyone made copies, Stereophile's subscription and sales rate would be exactly one copy.

More than that, while I'm sure it already happens plenty, record and cd stores would not profit very much if everyone took the same media, copied it and then re-sold it.


Michael Lavorgna's picture

People can make copies of Stereophile and sell the original thus impacting distribution but they don't. And they don't for any number of reasons like a) it's not easy, and b) a subscription is $12.97/year. So this theoretical impact in your scenario isn't realistic.

Let’s look at the music argument. It is certainly legal to sell your CDs and LPs. So, I’m not sure I understand the difference in terms of the net effect if I make a copy of the music I purchased before I sell it?

And I think you’d agree that this doesn't apply to music that's out of print where you could look at this same scenario, I make a copy then sell it, as giving someone else an opportunity to have it too.

Michael Lavorgna's picture

For the record and to show I can get lost in my own arguments at times.

Given more thought, I agree with you.

So to state my revised point of view, only sell music you don’t want to own and if you decide to sell something you’ve previously ripped, delete it.

kavon yarrum's picture

Let.s get the law enforcement right on it...right after they finish dealing with the hundreds of insider trading, corporate bribery, mortgage fraud, embezzlement, and offshore money laundering cases they are investigating which cost ordinary people and the treasurery billions of dollars.


firedog55's picture

If you don't possess the CD, it's illegal to have the rip (unless it's a legal paid for download and you can prove it) in the US.

Otherwise, you could  get visited by the RIAA police that take you to court and get a jury  determination that you owe tens of thousands of dollars PER SONG you have on your HD. Not saying it's likely, (especially if you don't share your rips), but it is possible.

So keep your CDs in storage.

Michael Lavorgna's picture

It's also interesting to note that ripping isn't exactly legal either.

From the RIAA:

...there’s no legal "right" to copy the copyrighted music on a CD onto a CD-R. However, burning a copy of CD onto a CD-R, or transferring a copy onto your computer hard drive or your portable music player, won’t usually raise concerns so long as:
The copy is made from an authorized original CD that you legitimately own.
The copy is just for your personal use. It’s not a personal use – in fact, it’s illegal – to give away the copy or lend it to others for copying.
Wcwc's picture

Wouldn't it be nice to have the ability to download lossless tracks from somewhere instead of buying the CD and ripping it? I still refuse to buy mp3s or AAC formatted music. In most cases, especially with music that is a few years old it is much less expensive to buy used CDs. I subscribe to MOG and listen to all their new albums every week and buy CDs of ones I really like. I would prefer to buy them as lossless downloads of CD quality music. The hiRez download sites are just a little to pricey for me. I guess I am a little bit frugal.

kavon yarrum's picture

I'm still waiting too. I'm getting old here.

I agree with everything you say.

But it also exposes the "physical media is dead" crowd as blow hards. They have been saying for over five years that lossless downloads would over take CDs. Still waiting.

I can cut and paste quotes going back to 2007 from Sphile and TAS writers saying discs are in their coffin. Yawn. 

But all that being said, why is their not a FLAC or ALAC download of every single CD that is released every Tuesday? 

Some of the highe rez mainstream downloads that appear on HDtracks are just not worth it PERIOD. A 96/24 FLAC,  of a new pro tools pop record yields nothing better than the Redbook. No way I am paying 18 bucks for it when I can get the CD which will sound 95% + as good for 10 bucks on amazon. 

A bigger joke is HDtracks selling 44.1/24 bit as "high rez". LOL Norah Jones is an example of this. Even a great artist like her, who in the past recorded in analog, is doing native 44.1 recording.

 It also illustrates how audiophiles are so in the dark as to the resolution that major pop records are recorded at.  They seem to think there is an ocean of 96, 176.4, and 192 music to be had. 

Michael Lavorgna's picture

And I think its coming. If you haven't seen this list of download sites, its fairly long and getting longer, a good sign. And I completely understand frugal and count myself in that camp.

kavon yarrum's picture

I agree it is coming...anyone who doubts that is really in the ain't here yet.

I was doing some inventory, and there are few albums I was looking to fill in some gaps from Lynyrd Skynrd, Van Morrison, Laura Nyro, and Dr. John, and a few more and NONE of the albums were available in any format but CD

Same goes for a dozen new releases I just bought from fairly well known artists...we are not talking obscure indie weird stuff here.


kavon yarrum's picture

Hi Michael:

On the very last page of the April Stereophile, Thomas Conrad writes a wonderful piece about an album of forgotten Gil Evans arrangements recorded to analog tape then archived in "high resolution" according to Conrad.

It is only available on the website:

Here is the catch. IT IS ONLY AVAILABLE ON CD AND MP3!!!

This just ridiculous.

Where is my Redbook FLAC download? Where is my studio master FLAC download?

This WOULD be worth getting, by the way, in hi rez, since it is described as an all acoustic, naturally recorded album.

The fact that the album was profiled in Stereophile makes this scenario even more absurd.

MikeyH's picture

.. these licenses are all about how the sites pay the music industry, not about how we pay the sites. Nothing changes on the consumer side. Music industry lawyers and managers make more money explaining the changes to the artists.

Michael Lavorgna's picture

...would be greater access through more music download distribution channels due to the proposed simplified licensing plan. At least according to this press release/Op-Ed piece.

But I understand (and am sympathetic with) your point.

firedog55's picture

Mainstream artists and Boomer favorites such as Dream Theater, McCartney, and Rod Stewart are putting out their catalogues in hi-res now. I've bought several of the last two, and the remastered hi-res versions are a sonic improvement over the CD's I had.  Plus, McCartney is making his remastered catalogue available in both volume compressed and no extra compression versions. For me, the lack of added volume compression is wonderful - and a rarity these days.

Even DSD downloads are starting to be available - although titles are very few. But there's a huge catalogue of material that was once remastered to or recorded in DSD, so it all may become available.

I don't think the market for this has to be huge for it to be viable. The record companies are so desperate to pump up their ever shrinking revenue streams that I think they will support Redbook and hi-res downloads, just like they now do with the small vinyl market. For them any added cash flow is a good thing.

So yes, the catalogue of  Redbook and hi-res downloads is small. But it is many times the size of what it was just 2 years ago, and more and more music you might want to buy is being made available on a weekly basis.



labjr's picture

"If everyone made copies, Stereophile's subscription and sales rate would be exactly one copy"

I only paid like $8 this year.  So I would think as long as everyone reads the ads Stereophile would probably make out better  and save on postage which is about all the subscription price pays for. They would however, have a hard time keeping track of how many people read the magazine.

Maybe the record industry can give us ad-supported free music.

exile_ken's picture

the ATO Records site offers a FLAC download (Redbook) of their new debut album, Boys & Girls, for only $7.99.  That is the cheapest I have seen for new releases in the FLAC format (a pattern?).  If you like trad rock / blues / 60's soul, this is an excellent album.  And you can legally own it in FLAC at an MP3 price.