Today’s announcement that Universal has finally decided to come to senses is quite encouraging. In this, they join the ranks of EMI that reported very positive revenue figures for their DRM free music. These are certainly encouraging signs that the music industry is finally recognizing that times have changed and that the People are not their enemy, but instead potential customers.
I would like to take this occasion to point to a record company that should be regognized for their groundbreaking approach to music distribution: Linn Records, subsidy of the well-regarded Linn audio products. Not only have they been selling DRM-free MP3s for quite some time now, but much more important, they are offering for a large part of their selection CD quality and – even better – studio master quality downloads. Note that these are not merely high bitrate MP3s, but in the case of the CD quality downloads they ship 44.1 kHz/16 bit resolution, for High Resolution it is mostly in 88.2 kHz or 96 kHz and 24 bit quantization. To make this even better, the files formats are either WAV (uncompressed) or the free lossless compression format FLAC. Burning the bit to CD or DVD-A is actually encouraged.
Currently these downloads are all in stereo only. But upon request, a spokesperson told me that they are actively looking into the possibility to releasing some of their 5.1 music in high resolution.
If that got you interested, you might also want to take a look at their physical products: many of their releases are available in SACD and/or HDCD, and the artistic quality is – from what I heard so far – pretty good.