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Cowboys In Cybersp@ce - August 1999
By Bob Howe © 1999
"Power to the People"
The hot topic this month is digital downloads and their impact on the music industry. Let's briefly examine what this means to the record buying public, the artists, and the Record Companies. For the public, the lure is to be able to choose exactly which songs they wish to buy, preview them, download them, and create their own music library. For the independent artists, it means being able to promote and distribute their music to anywhere in the world, with very low overhead costs. This obviously makes the record companies very nervous, and only recently have the "Big 5" global companies (Universal, BMG, EMI, Sony and Warners) begun to stake their claim on the virtual record shop.
Digital downloads have been a reality for quite some time now. The most popular format is called MP3. In simple terms, a recording is compressed into a computer file that is up to 10 times smaller than the space it takes up on a normal audio CD. This reduces a song to a size that can reasonably be transferred across the Internet, with the minimum of downloading time. The song can then be played via software on your computer. It can also be copied, without any loss of quality, which has lead to huge fears that piracy will become rampant. This technology does admittedly make the professional criminal's job a lot easier, but on the domestic front, one can't help draw comparisons with the "home taping" debate of the 80s. The unfortunate backlash of this new perceived threat has made many copyright authorities very nervous. These authorities have threatened the existence of relatively harmless, and often very useful Web sites run by enthusiasts, containing song lyrics and Midi files.
MP3 has become such a standard format, that it will probably continue to be used for many purposes, even if the big players manage to create an alternative that combats unauthorised duplication. This elusive alternative has been one of the aims of the SDMI (Secure Digital Music Initiative), a collection of more than 150 Music, Electronics and Technology companies, that also has the backing of the "Big 5". Whatever the outcome of their efforts, BMG have announced that they will begin selling music over the Internet before the end of this year. It will no doubt be a while before the sales of physical CD recordings are affected, but when they are, the whole nature of the industry will change dramatically.
And now for a round-up of news
and newly found sites: -
- On a rather sad note, the legendary Guy Mitchell passed away on July 1st at the age of 72. Born as Albert Cernick, 22 February 1927, it was as Guy Mitchell that he won his way into many hearts with countless hit records that included 'Singing The Blues', 'My Heart Cries For You', 'Rock-a-Billy' and 'Heartaches By The Number'. His career spanned novelty songs to Country Music, television and films. I had the privilege to conduct the orchestra for Guy during his 1991 tour of Australia, an experience I will always treasure. A true gentleman. Visit The Guy Mitchell Appreciation Society Web site to relive some of the memories of his great talent.
- From the Victorian mallee to cyberspace is quite a journey, but John Williamson makes that leap very easily. The "True Blue" site was featured in the very first Cowboys In Cybersp@ce column. John is building quite a following in the U.K. these days and getting lots of airplay on BBC radio. With the release of his great new album The Way It Is, take the time to once again visit JW on-line.
- Kerrigan La-Brooy begins work on his next
release this month. In the meantime, fans can read the detailed Kerrigan La-Brooy story on his Web page. Kerrigan has recently been involved in a production of the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar, playing the part of Peter!
- Shaun Murray is a young singer with big ambitions. He is currently promoting his debut single "I DROVE ALL NIGHT" and receiving airplay around the world. Find out more up this up-coming artist at his Web page.
- Wilf Montan might live in Brisbane, but his new CD "Back to Alberta" portrays the beauty of the Canadian Rockies. In a laid-back traditional style, Wilf sings of the greatest outdoor show on Earth, The Calgary Stampede, and the joys of travelling through the Fraser Canyon on-board the famous train, "the Rocky Mountaineer". Check out his Web page to sample his music and find out more.
- A Web site that belongs to the aptly named Country Boy, could be just the place to while away a few hours on a winter's night. He has been collecting Country Music links by the truckload. If you've got plenty of time on your hands, visit his site and see where it takes you!
Don't forget to listen out for Cowboys in Cybersp@ce
each month on the radio waves with Belinda Miller of
Murri Country , 4AAA –FM (98.9 in Brisbane).
If you want to share the location of an
interesting site you’ve seen or request a topic for discussion in
future columns, why not
next month, happy surfing.
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