This story first appeared on Radio Magazine's sister publication TWICE.
LAS VEGAS--High-resolution audio�is making the move from downloading to streaming, with�Tidal�launching high-res streaming of thousands of albums and Napster announcing plans at�CES�to begin high-res streaming of thousands of albums in the spring.
James "Jimmy Jam" Harris, chairman emeritus of the Recording Academy and Grammy-winning music producer and songwriter, hailed high-res music files as delivering "studio-quality sound without sacrificing convenience."
In a separate initiative to expand high-res adoption, the Digital Entertainment Group unveiled a new consumer awareness campaign, called�Stream the Studio,�to align marketing messages to promote high-res devices, technologies and music. The campaign will include event marketing and social media �to educate and engage millennial music fans on the benefits of studio quality high-res audio,� the group said.
Before the year is out, four to five services could be streaming high-res, said MQA chairman Bob Stuart. Stuart�s company developed Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) technology to reduce bandwidth requirements to make it practical to stream master-quality audio. Other companies are also developing technologies to make high-res streaming practical, Napster/Rhapsody CEO Mike Davis told the Official CES Daily.
High-resolution audio streams could spread high-res adoption by tapping into growing consumer demand for streaming music rather than downloading it. A Music Watch survey commissioned by DEG found that a premium music service offering high-res and other value adds could attract more than 12 million subscribers in the U.S., the DEG announced at CES.
Tidal�s high-res albums can be streamed to its computer application and to embedded implementations such as wireless-multiroom speakers, soundbars, and audio components, said MQA�s Stuart. The music can also be streamed to Wi-Fi equipped digital audio players (DAPs) if equipped with a Tidal high-res app. Smartphone apps supporting Tidal, however, aren�t available yet, he noted.
To stream Tidal�s high-res files, consumers must subscribe to the $19.99/month Tidal HiFi service, which already streams in CD quality.
Tidal is using MQA technology to stream albums from Warner Music and independent labels. For his part, Napster�s Davis said he expects his launch to include all the major labels, but he didn�t say whether MQA or other technologies would be used.
The three major record companies � Sony, Warner and Universal � as well as many independents already offer more than 15,000 high-res albums for downloads, DEG said.
Other music services also spoke highly of high-res streaming during a Thursday press conference, including David Chesky, CEO of high-res download service HDTracks, but he didn�t say when his company would launch high-res streaming.
And in a written statement distributed by DEG at the show, Pandora CTO Chris Martin said, �Pandora has the platform to make this [high-res streaming] big!� He also noted, however, that �while not for everyone, high-res music streaming has the potential to engage millions of digital music fans who are seeking a more immersive, studio-quality listening experience.�
For his part, Atlantic Records co-chair/CEO Craig Kallman hailed high-res downloads and streaming as reversing �30 consecutive years of downgrading the quality of a consumer format,� beginning with the shift to CD from vinyl and then to MP3 files and streaming. High-res technology, however, has shown that �quality and convenience can be in complete harmony.�