There were also a few attempts by Block Buster and others to offer kiosks in the stores, so that customers could pick their own playlist and burn on the spot. Those things went away quickly.
Derek, Patrick and Peter...why do we even need to have a conversation about other options for delivery? iTunes is king of the mountain. Obviously people do not care about the MP3s quality, because billions have been sold. Just like McDonalds. It ain't a steak burger (maybe it isn't beef completely) but we all eat it for some silly reason.
But for our own artistic reasons, and for the few audiophiles that have MP3 players hooked up to their $10k tube amplifiers and $40k speakers, would it not be possible to get the top 5 digital music services to offer 192kbps MP3s? They are darn close to CD quality.
Why can't the fat cats in the audio industry, or one of your companies, offer a high performance player/format directly thats basically free, with the cost of sales built into packaged music?
Peter Wells, SVP Operations, Customer Advocate - Tunecore
I can't imagine an audophile being satisfied with 192. Or 256. Or CD-quality, for that matter. On the other hand, 128 (which still dominates, even though Apple uses 128 .AAC files, which compress a bit better than .MP3) just isn't going to cut the mustard for a lot of people.
This isn't idle speculation: iTunes Plus offers 256 kbps .AAC, which shows the largest store is already addressing the problem.
Now here is some idle speculation: The loads on the servers would be extraordinary, and processing power would be sucked down like spaghetti, but I'd like to see iTunes or other digital retailers offer on-the-fly encoding. So you'd pick your song, your album, and just before you buy, it says, "How do you want it?" and lets you pick anything from 128 right up to Lossless. For all the music we're sending to the stores is in lossless. That doesn't mean "lossless" is perfect--if someone gives us a 128 .MP3, we make it into a lossless file and send that, but that simply means it's a perfect-fidelity reproduction of an already compressed piece of music.
Still, as people select better and better methods of sending in music, right up to actual masters, and as server, storage and processor capacity grow and become cheaper, we might see it! That way the audiophile with a lot of broadband and a willingness to wait half an hour to dowload a big file could get the quality they crave.
"On-the-fly encoding" was offered more than 2 years ago by that controversial Russian digital download webstore(it's name starts with "A").
Instead of learning from all the aspects that made that store so successful, the (western) labels decided to sue them.
That store was everything that a music consumer wanted, the only destination that addressed almost all reasons that a music listener had for turning to filesharing. IMO they were the only online store that had a solid enough value proposition to become a real alternative to illegal sources of content acquisition.
Sorry for going off topic heh
gotpop: Why would you want to sell manufactured CDs? If I were you I would take up Lambcast CDS. Let your listeners burn their own CDs. Then offer to sell a beautifully printed booklet. This way you can keep the price of your music, the primary product, low (you don't have to pay for CD manufacture, packaging, storage, shipping and distribution costs so you can price your virtual CD at a really attractive price). Then you offer the booklet as a secondary product to those fans who want a deeper personal connection with you, just like selling T-shirts. They can rip and share your music, but they can't rip and share a non-digitizable (well scanning and printing the booklet degrades the value significantly) merchandise. Just my thought heh