Music Industry

Maybe High-Res Audio Will be a Thing in 2015. Paul McCartney Is Now On Board

People forget that the Beatles didn’t release any of their music on CD until February 1987, almost five years after the compact disc was unveiled. The organization wanted to make sure that CDs were actually going to take hold in the marketplace before they committed a single second of their precious and highly valuable music to this new industry scheme. Once they did, though, the music-buying public took that as a sign and began gorging on the CDs. Sales went through the roof.

When iTunes made digital downloads a thing, the Beatles hung back, waiting until they were absolutely ready to go the all-digital route. Although iTunes had been in existence since 2001, it wasn’t until November 10, 2010, that Apple was able to sell us anything.  Shortly after, iTunes became the number one music retailer on the planet.

The next frontier is streaming. Neither Rdio and Spotify have meaningful Beatles catalogues; selection is restricted to the group’s earliest recordings and other people covering the band. Want to stream Abbey Road? Not available. My guess is that once the Beatles organization gets things sorted out with the streaming music services, that new form of music consumption will be on the road to reaching critical mass with music fans.

And hang on: what’s this?  Neil Young has scored a coup with his High-Res Pono system–which, by the way, goes on sale today for $399 for delivery next month.  According to Showbiz 411, Paul McCartney has agreed to transfer all the Beatles’ music into lossless files so it can be sold in the Pono store.  (Don’t look for High-Res audio on iTunes yet; it can’t handle those files.)

Is this a milestone for High-Res audio?  I sure hope so. I’m tired of people settled for audio that is good enough.  I’ve been road testing a Sony High-Res player for the past month and I love it. If you were around when we made the transition from the crappy, thin, recycled vinyl of the 1980s to CD, you’ll have some idea about how dramatic the difference is between MP3s and High-Res audio.  I can’t wait to hear Abbey Road in this format.

It’s time we rolled things back to the 80s (or even the 70s!) to discover how good music can sound and feel.  Who’s with me?

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38464 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

2 thoughts on “Maybe High-Res Audio Will be a Thing in 2015. Paul McCartney Is Now On Board

  • Hi-res is a format I would pay for, if the pricing is reasonable. HDtracks and its counterparts are asking way too much, and there isn’t a great selection – much of it is region limited. I don’t buy MP3’s, and CD’s I do occasionally but only to support the artist or complete a collection… I usually rip them and never really open them again. Hi-res is that bit extra that could add the value over and above what we have now. I’m a bit of a purist though, so not everyone will bother. But it will be interesting to see what happens with it!

  • Same here, I have never downloaded an MP3; I was forewarned by the esteemed Mr. Cross years ago that they just aren’t good enough, and I buy CDs to make sure the artist gets paid something. I also rip them using Window Media Centre, and then almost permanently shelf the cd. I really hope Bose gets on board with this; I love my Bose radio and computer speakers – not sure my apartment neighbours feel the same way.


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