NEWS: Peter Gabriel and B&W launch high-quality download club

Sat, 17 May 2008, 2:26pm

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Speaker manufacturer B&W has teamed up with Peter Gabriel and his Real World Studios, to create Music Club, a new download service dedicated to high-quality digital distribution and the promotion of new artists.

At the exclusive launch at the Real World Studio complex in Bath, Gabriel and B&W's Dan Haikin (above) set out the thinking behind the new service, as well as introducing some great live performances from featured artists.

Music Club, which will go live this week, is a subscription service. For £23.95 for six months – or £33.95 for the whole year – members will receive a complete downloaded album every month.

The albums will be downloaded DRM-free and using the high-quality Apple Lossless format, offering users a way of accessing music through digital distribution without making any compromises in terms of sonic quality.

Imgp0340Some of the artists to be featured include Grindhouse – also known as Mondo Cane (pictured) – who played a fine acoustic set at Music Club's launch party. The band includes Dominic Greensmith from Reef, as well as Ronnie Wood's son Jesse.

Little Axe also played a set, and is the first act to be offered by Music Club as a high-quality download. The driving force behind Little Axe is Skip McDonald, a legend of the Sugar Hill house band, and who played on early hip-hop classics like The Message and White Lines. Little Axe played a great set, a gospel-tinged blues/dub fusion with seismic basslines underpinning McDonald's acoustic blues stylings.

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The new service also represents an alternative, artist-friendly way of distributing tracks. Music Club subscribers will get a diverse range of downloaded albums with artists selected by Peter Gabriel and his team at Real World. B&W will then exclusively offer the album as a high-quality download, but after two months the rights to the recordings will revert back to the artist, who may then exploit them in any way they wish.

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Comments

The service isn't live yet, but in a few days you'll be able to find it at www.bowers-wilkins.com/sos.

Cheers Dominic! it does, indeed, show potential.

It's a shame that Apple is involved once again - when will we see some competition for lossless codecs?

I will take the opportunity to mention the website www.boomkat.com. The site offers downloads – largely of 'electronic music' but I spy some Bonnie Prince Billy, Bjork and Last Of The Shadow Puppets on there – at 320kbps MP3 and FLAC formats.

DLeslie – it's not that Apple are involved, they aren't. It's just about a choice of codec. Given the state of the 'market' for media library applications and the staggering dominance of iTunes within it, it's a fairly reasonable choice to make in the circumstances.

You can easily convert Apple Lossless back to WAV if you like using software free online.

What a splendid concept. Of course, the 'promotion of new artists' aspect is great but let's hope this also prompts other artists/labels to provide downloads using Lossless. MP3 RIP!

I assume Music Club's downloads are compatible with iTunes?  

Since they're Apple Lossless, then they certainly should be.

I also hope it prompts more artists/labels to use lossless compression.

Does that mean an album wil only be available for two months...?

This is all really frustrating. No-one's prepared to take that crucial leap are they...?

I'll say it again - record label co-operation > big online record store+lossless files + reasonable price per track = millions of happy music shoppers.

C'mon record label execs - throw caution to the wind, get together and love one another - AND US! You would'nt regret it.

£3-4 for a high quality download is good value.

Much depends on the quality - and genres - of the music. I have pretty broad tastes, but you couldn't pay me to download hip hop!

Yes, they're certainly compatible with iTunes. I think B&W wanted a simple solution that would offer high quality, and given the market dominance of iTunes at the moment, Apple Lossless would seem the obvious format to go with.

Al7478 – No, there will be a new album on Music Club every month. Beyond that, I agree with you. At least this idea is a step forward in pushing one vital element of your equation – high-quality downloads. If it does well, maybe the record labels, HMV etc, iTunes, the whole lot of them, might look at high-quality downloads and see there's a market there...

Wightknight – None of the music I heard about on the night was actually what I'd call hip-hop... There were some very interesting fusions though. And anyway, the records Skip McDonald has played on are legendary: whether you like hip-hop or not, The Message and White Lines are classics!

Dominic - Do you have the URL? I would be prepared to try the service.