A couple of days ago, when I posted this comment on the Christian Science Monitor’s article on DRM and hi-fi music downloads, I also sent an e-mail off to the Editors. I expected my note to dissapear into the great bit bucket in the sky, and certainly the Monitor would have been entirely justified in reading my e-mail, deleting it, and then moving on to deal with more important matters. But instead, I was pleasantly surprised to get an e-mail this morning from Stephen Humphries, the Weekend Section Editor, and we exchanged a few e-mails. He had passed my concern on to Brian Wise, the author of the piece in question, who said:
“As for the e-mail from your reader, I see his point: there are in theory ways to present music with DRM and also without compression. However, because of the way Apple has bundled the two, you really won’t see one without the other in the marketplace. Thus when EMI decided to drop DRM recently, the audio files were suddenly at a much higher bit rate and also much larger sizes. Conversely, retailers like eMusic or Magnatune don’t use DRM and also don’t use compression. I asked several of my sources about that point and they all agreed that the link is pretty solid. Hope that helps…”
That’s a pretty reasonable point. As long as the industry essentially always ties DRM to high fidelity audio and vice versa, the rise of non-DRM files does mean increased availability of high quality downloadable music, which is indeed good news for audiophiles of all stripes. While I would have preferred clarity in the original piece that DRM isn’t itself the problem, Wise’s basic thesis seems valid.
Perhaps more interesting, though, is what Humphries had to say about CSM’s coverage of classical music:
“We are trying to boost our coverage of classical music by looking for fresh trends and new developments in that area of music. We’re also going to be running occasional roundup reviews of recent classical music releases, too.”
Obviously, we’ll have to wait and see how successfully they deliver, but in light of the recent news about the Atlanta Journal Constitution and the Minneapolis Star Tribune, this sounds very promising.