As record companies look for ways to exploit technology and reach a larger audience, one of the classical world's oldest and most established players, Deutsche Grammophon (part of Universal Classics) has unveiled their DG Web Shop. This will offer CD quality downloads of 'the majority of their huge catalogue'.
Michael Lang, President of Deutsche Grammophon, stated: 'Our company was founded over 110 years ago, and since then, it has stood for innovation and quality. During the development of our new web shop, we remained true to these principles as we continue to expand the digital music marketplace with our range of download services.'
The official press release goes on: 'Almost 2,500 DG albums will be available for download in maximum MP3 quality at a transfer bit-rate of 320 kilobits per second (kbps) – an audio-level that experts agree is indistinguishable from CD quality audio; and which exceeds the usual industry download-standard of 128-192 kbps (as well as EMI’s 256 kbps on iTunes).
'Through the launch of this new portal, drawing on the existing strength of its 250,000 unique web site visitors per month, the company once again shows that tradition and technical progress can be combined, and that new distribution channels can be created to appeal to a wider range of music consumers.
'Among the highlights of the DG Web Shop are almost 600 album titles which are no longer available as CDs – these have been specially converted into MP3 files for the DG Web Shop, making them available as downloads – with more out-of-print titles to follow. The goal is to digitize all the great Deutsche Grammophon recordings to be accessible for download – a treasure of music history, always available.
'Visitors to the web shop have the choice of buying entire albums, collections of albums and box-sets – or individual movements, complete works, and individual pieces. In contrast to many other digital download services all tracks are available for sale regardless of length.'
This development is in line with the launch of the DG Concerts initiative announced earlier in the year, whereby concerts are recorded exclusively to be made available as downloads over the web, including several of this year's Proms concerts. Whether hardened music lovers will be convinced about the promises of sound quality equivalent to that of CD will remain to be seen. Similarly some might wonder whether the prices will prove to be cheap enough to entice those more used to handling physical media. Currently individual titles up to seven minutes in length will cost from $/€1.09; full albums, with or without 'e-booklets' (ie, cover-art, photographs, and liner notes), will sell for between $/€10.99 and $/€11.99.
Another problem for those in the UK is the fact that the country's broadband infrastructure is lagging some way behind that of our European neighbours, to say nothing of the USA and Far East. The hope must be, though, that this initiative will make DG's extensive catalogue more available to members of the IPod generation who would otherwise not venture into a classical music shop. If it succeeds in that, then it can only be a good thing.
External Link: The DG Web Shop
By Hugo Shirley