The ECM Catalog Comes to Streaming

Why is this news? Two reasons—there's a ton of great music in their vaults, and ECM's focus on sound quality has kept them away from streaming. Until now.

Why Now? Reportedly to combat unauthorized uploads of the albums.

You can choose to stream ECM from any of the vast number of shitty-sounding streaming services (SSSS) or Qobuz and Tidal (HiFi). In my experience, CD-quality streaming, which I get from Tidal HiFi, offers a level of sound quality that falls into my, damn! I can listen to this all day every day, category. That doesn't mean I don't buy music, I do (LPs and downloads and CDs), but it does mean I can listen to music that's new to me 24/7 and it sounds as good CDs and downloads. Heaven, I'm in heaven.

So yea, ECM offering their catalog to streaming services is good news all around.

Bob Karp's picture

I'm that thrilled again with the addition of the ECM catalogue! This is HUGE! ECM has so much extraordinary music, most of it recorded in breathtaking quality! I'm streaming Ralph Towner's Diary right now. Yeah, I have the CD upstairs. And I own a good deal of ECM on vinyl, from the old days ... but to have the whole catalogue at your fingertips for streaming ... whew! I agree with you Michael, streaming on Tidal is plenty good enough for day-long pleasure.

I'm not parting with my physical media, and I'm still buying more, both CDs and Vinyl. But for exploring and casual listening, Tidal is just wonderful. When I find something that I really love, I'm still plunking down for a copy I can hold in my hands. Maybe that's a compulsion I'll eventually outgrow. Maybe not. Hi-Res downloads? Yeah, I've bought some. I'd probably indulge more if the download service offered the right to download again (with no time limit) in event of data loss. I'm not fond of having to ensure multiple back-up copies of massive data files. But I digress ...

It's beyond wonderful to have the ECM catalogue up on Tidal. I think I can convince a few holdouts to join Tidal on the strength of ECM alone. Thanks for spotlighting this.

Bob Karp's picture

I know, I know ... this rant probably doesn't belong here.

Has anyone else been bitterly disappointed by the REMOVAL of all Chesky titles from Tidal? Chesky has recorded and released some truly exceptional jazz in stunning audio quality. It's really wonderful stuff. And much of it is out-of-print. I've chased down and paid big bucks for some of these out-of-print Chesky titles. Chesky seems to have no interest in re-pressing them.

Of course, David has HD Tracks from which you can purchase hi-res downloads of this music. And, for a while, if you were not interested in building and backing-up a ginormous hard-drive-based music collection, you could stream these Chesky titles from Tidal. They sounded glorious! As good as the downloads? I don't know. Maybe not. But they sounded great, and it was wonderful to have them. But not anymore. David has pulled down ALL Chesky music from Tidal. Ok, I get it. Chesky wants to sell you this music, and evidently they did not feel that their compensation through Tidal was worthwhile. Fair enough. But I'm sad for the loss. I do still buy physical media, LPs and CDs. But I'm not into the home-maintained monster data game. I like too much music. I keep liking more. High quality streaming makes more sense to me, and I find that it can sound extremely good.

I might buy some more discs of Chesky's music, if they were available (directly, at reasonable cost). I might even be moved to buying some more hi-res downloads, if I were that sure of how much I loved the music. But discovery, acquaintance and love come from availability and repeated exposure. Chesky has kind of slammed the door on that by removing all of this music from streaming.

I really do wish Chesky well. And I'd be very happy to see their music catalogue flourish. It deserves to. But I think that removing all of their titles from Tidal was a mistake.

PAR's picture

The reason why Chesky has apparently been removed from Tidal may well be because Chesky themselves are starting a streaming service with MQA encoding. You can find out about it ( so far as is known) on this very website in a posting from Michael on 5th June.

BTW, regarding the main topic of this article, if you are lucky to live in a country served by Qobuz you cannot only hear the ECM catalogue in CD quality but also in Hi-Rez if you subscribe to their top tier. I have just been playing Anour Brahem in 24/96. No MQA, they stream in full resolution.

Bob Karp's picture

Yes, now I remember reading about Chesky's plans to launch their own streaming service. That was some time ago; no updates. Hmm. Not a trivial business launching a streaming service. Tidal needed a big cash infusion and, much as I love Tidal and think that most of us here would hate to see them go away, I do wonder just how strong the business is.

Hosting a reliable real-time streaming service is much harder than serving-up files for download. I think Tidal (at HiFi/Master quality) is a great value. But the price point is significant and I don't know that I'd pony up for multiple services. I love Chesky's catalogue, but their homegrown music is not *that* large. Exclusive arrangements to stream other label's hi-res content? Yes, that could be a thing. But they'd need to obtain exclusive rights to a lot of hi-res content. Tidal currently hosts a pretty wide assortment of labels and content.

I'd heard about Qobuz streaming ECM titles in hi-res. Jealous! I'm sure there are tricks to play to get the service in the U.S. ... But, simplicity has its advantages too. Right now, at least, with one service (and one reasonable payment) Tidal offers quite a lot, including a number of the ECM titles in MQA. (And if we all get to the point of debating whether native hi-res streaming is better/worse than MQA-encoded streaming ... well, I could live happily in the midst of such riches without bothering to debate at all.)

alfa's picture

Unfortunately a lot of the ECM titles available on Tidal still suffer from the effects of an attempt to brand the material. Called watermarking and allegedly performed by Universal to some/all of their material.
If you havent heard it, give Nik Bärtch’s Ronin - Stoa a listen. On the first song, Modul 36, you can hear this clearly when the piano emerges from the pitch black background and then fades away. Someone described the effect as listening through a ceiling fan?
Too bad, on such excellent recordings!