Two pre-recorded MiniDiscs, that is; Indigo Girls' Swamp Ophelia (which previous link takes you to their Artist Direct page -- more on that in a minute) and Mary Chapin Carpenter's Come On Come On (which, yes, I bought just for Passionate Kisses, but the rest is good, too). Which just puts me that much closer to total freakhood, I expect.
Looking forward to the launch of CONNECT, and just signed up for the beta program. Figure the freakhood might actually work in my favor for once. . .
Artist Direct, mentioned up there in a parenthetical, describe themselves thusly:
Talk about a sonic boom: Bursting onto computer screens in 1994, ARTISTdirect's online network quickly became one of the most popular music destinations on the Internet. The network-which averages 3 million visitors per month-consists of: ARTISTdirect.com www.artistdirect.com, home of the official online channels operated and maintained on behalf of a myriad of superstar acts; UBL www.ubl.com, an award-winning, all-inclusive music portal and search engine with a database of more than 500,000 artists and millions of links; iMusic (www.imusic.com), the premier online music community site with message boards; and the ARTISTdirect Superstore, a full-service online shopping mall that features exclusive artist merchandise and other collectibles, limited edition CDs, and an advance concert ticket window, from artists including *NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, Cher, Metallica, Korn, Blink 182, Beastie Boys, and many others. Said Rolling Stone, "If you're looking for music on the Internet, you won't find a more comprehensive, exhaustive or downright addictive place to start."
Marketing speak. Honestly. Not sure what "official online channels operated and maintained on behalf of" means for the artists, but since the Indigo Girls linked to 'em from their official site, guess they can't be doing too badly by folks.
Tying this together, more or less, if you squint a little, tried visitng OpenMG in the built-in (translation: embedded IE) browser in SonicStage, and got this:
On March 29 (Monday), 2004, we have closed down the OpenMG Home Page, and in notifying you of this scheduled development, we would like to take the opportunity to thank you for visiting and using this home page for the long time when it was up: your keen interest and attention have been very much appreciated. After the OpenMG Home Page has been discontinued, we will continue to provide OpenMG-related information, announcements and support for both our products and software so please be sure to check out the home pages given below. In response to the impending arrival of the age of full-blown broadband access, OpenMG--as a technology which will continue to support all sorts of digital contents in the future--will be coming up with some exciting suggestions for fun-filled lifestyles, and we hope that you will enjoy what we will be offering.
Again with the marketing speak. . . dropping by MiniDisc.org brought up a link to a registration-required Chicago Tribune/LA Times article from a few days back, McDonald's, Sony Said to Be in Music Pact:
Hungry for a taste of the online music business, Sony Corp. is aiming to line up McDonald's Corp. to market the Japanese conglomerate's new download service, according to people familiar with the deal.
The two companies have been hammering out the details of a pact in which McDonald's would provide fast-food diners with free songs from Sony's online music store, Sony Connect, these people said. The deal is expected to be announced this week.
Representatives from Sony and McDonald's declined to comment.
The sources said McDonald's was expected to commit about $30 million to advertise the program in the U.S. and beef up the launch of Sony Connect, which will charge 99 cents per song when it starts up this spring.
LAS VEGAS (CES, Booth #N109), Jan. 7, 2004 -- Sony Corporation of America (SCA) today formally announced plans to launch its new Connect™ online music service in the United States. The Connect service will offer consumers an easy-to-use, affordable and secure means of purchasing music online and downloading it to a wide variety of Sony® portable devices including Net MD™ Walkman® recorders, Hi-MD™ Walkman recorders, ATRAC® CD Walkman players, and Network Walkman™ players.
[. . .] At launch, the Connectservice will feature more than 500,000 tracks from the major music companies and many independent labels. Users will be able to easily browse through content by artist, title or genre. The Connect service will also feature special content not available on any other music site. Singles will be available for 99 cents, and entire albums can be downloaded for $9.95. The Connect service will not have a subscription fee.
The service will feature ATRAC3™ audio compression that effectively reduces the size of audio files while delivering superb sound quality.With ATRAC3 compression, music can be recorded and compressed to 132kbps (kilobits per second), allowing consumers to store more high fidelity audio on CD recordable, MD, Hi-MD™ or Memory Stick® media.
Damn, that's some ugly HTML source up in there; just deleted lots of (apparently) pointless <font color=""> and corresponding font-closing. . . no one cares, do they? Right, moving on:
The obvious difference between Connect and other services is offering the tracks in/using ATRAC3, rather than mp3 format. To their credit, gotta say the sound quality (from the MiniDisc player) is pretty damn good even at the lowest setting. On the other hand, it's proprietary, and as a former Slashdot reader (and current Linux user), I'm required by law to be opposed formats that ain't open. For a start, doubt they'll be releasing a Linux client to "talk to" the player. Possibly. Sony seems a lot more open to the Penguin-Powered; see also: Linux for Playstation 2.
So, um, the practical upshot of all this is, their schemes for World Domination through Digital Convergence continue unabated. And given a choice between them and MicroSoft -- who are, of course, also developing a music download service, probably also using a proprietary format, in their case Windows Media -- personally, I'll go with Sony.
Or, I'm only saying that to get into the beta.
Think it'll work?