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Digital Domain

img  Tobias

Naxos has been known as a pioneer in the field of digital music for quite some time, so their latest announcement comes as no surprise: In allegiance with the Independent Online Distribution Alliance (IODA), they will make their entire catalogue of 75.000 tracks available via the Internet. Even though this move was to be expected, it is bound to change the workings of the entire industry: While some labels have been quicker to sell material as download files, none has taken a step of this magnitude. What it basically translates to, is that customers will be able to download almost every classical piece they like as well as a string of new music recordings and "exotic" music (e.g. from China). It almost doubles the repertoire of the IODA. And it all comes at a highly competetive price - the cheapest album will be available for a breathtaking $4.99. Naturally, things will not be up and ready in a second. As the music will be sold through online outlets, not all of it will be available right away and it will be spread over different sites. Which is hardly bad news for the folks at Naxos, who will be eager to see how demand develops and, just as importantly, where it develops. There's just one downside to the apparent pleasure: If a track is longer than seven minutes, one will have to buy the entire CD.

Web Bloggers have been quick to applaud the move and there is indeed quite a lot to congratulate it for. First of all, newbies and occasional classical music-listeners will be able to find almost every piece they like on the web and download it. It's the legal alternative to Kazaa and eMule that everyone has been waiting for. Secondly, it makes classical music competetive again. The simple fact that surfers will be confronted with the music as they go looking for popular hits, will almost certainly make a difference. And finally, it offers a true alternative - even regular CD buyers will be tempted to diversify their collection: They will like to buy some albums as premium-priced SACDs, others as regular CDs, still others from the cheap Naxos-catalogue and in order to try new things, they could turn to downloads.

What it also does, of course, is create a virtual monopoly. None of Naxos' competitors will be able to match their move quickly, so customers are basically entirely reliant on one company. That, however, will soon change. And once the other big names come flooding in, there might truly be an entirely new market for classical culture. This, for once, is a decision that makes sense on a business and idealistic level.

Homepage: Naxos
Source: Stereophile
Source: The Digital Music Weblog

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