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Deutsche Grammophon’s new web shop

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And great news for classical music fans, more bad news for CD retailers…

The DG Web Shop (dgwebshop.com), which touts an industry standard-exceeding “maximum MP3 quality at a bit-rate of 320 kilobits per second,” offers more than 2,400 classical albums. That includes about 600 currently out-of-print CDs, which only adds to the enticement. (More out-of-print items are on the way.) Complete CDs and multi-disc sets, and all the tracks contained on them, are available for download. Costs for complete CDs vary, but many are around $12; individual tracks of up to seven minutes are priced at $1.29.

This is indeed good news. The out-of-print CDs especially, as serious music aficionados will love it and online they are the ones that matter and pass the word along. The download quality is 320kpbs, which is almost 3 times better than Apple sells through iTunes. The music and film business should have made this possible, let’s say, a decade ago. Is this coming too late? Will enough people pay still a rather high price for something that can be obtained for free? Without the entertainment industry sitting on their arrogant business model, P2P would have probably stayed in the geekland. Now it’s user friendly to the point of helping the demand side supply itself, thank you very much.

The Deutsche Grammaphon site is usable enough, just make sure you go here, not to dgwebshop.com, to bypass an ‘evil Flash’ splash screen. (Someone should sit on the web designers hands when they have the urge to create full screen flash nightmares!) The searching by artist, composer and even series or album is good. And I love the format options and it is DRM-free! But as Techcrunch points out:

It may be worth noting that classical music receives less legal protection than contemporary music because only its recorded performances, not its compositions, are still under copyright.

The question remains – will the convenience of official web shops by music companies and labels outweigh the price and compete with the free bittorrent downloads? One way to tip the balance would be to go heavily for the long tail. And after that, the only hope is the Because Effect

Thanks to Mike Nutley for the heads up.

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