back to article Record labels to ditch CD singles for USB Flash drives

USB Flash drives will soon appear in record stores in a bid by major music labels to build up sales of physical media in the post-CD era. IronKey secure USB Flash drive and token Yes, but where are the sleeve notes? Universal told The Times this week that by the end of this month it will release USB singles holding several …

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Gold badge

WAV or Mp3?

If it's mp3 then this is the end of decent audio quality.

SACD won't take off neither will DVD-audio. We're now stuck with mp3 and it's crummy quality.

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i love the smell of rootkits in the morning

of course every label will employ its own rootkit ( with revokable keys ) or better every new stick has a new rootkit. That'll be fun.

500 Gbyte harddisk. 450 Gigabyte used by all the DRM rootkits and 5 gigabyte to store about 5000 tracks ...

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Coat

There could be some advantages

OK so the odds are that this WILL NOT happen, but...

The audio provided COULD be 24-bit 192Khz as we're no longer limited by the outdated spec of CD's. As a lot of folk haven't got a DVD-Audio player this could be the way for us to move to a higher quality audio reproduction than the CD's we're currently buying, without having to shell out for a new player.

I'm no fan of the MP3 as to my ears they sound lacking in depth and very often hihats sound like clinking milkbottles (reminiscent of my old 8-bit Amiga sampler)

But then as has already been pointed out playback is limited to your PC, but not everyone will find this a problem.

I would also like it if the data and DRM license can be copied to your harddisc then we wouldn't have to dig the thing out every time we want to listen to it, which is currently easy to do with cd's.

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Silver badge

Disaster!

OMG, I put a USB memory stick into my expensive CD player and it does not give it back!

Oh, it does not play it either!

Aa-a-ah, the lights on the front panel have just gone off!

O-o-oh! and smoke is coming out! and what is that rattling sound coming from the inside???

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Alert

Step 1 of many I hope to get it right

This is not a great plan but is a baby step in the right direction with a lot of if's.

I reakon the music stores need to have a AMM's(Automated Music Machines) like the banks have ATMs.

With no bullshit DRM that force us to buy the same thing for diferent devices. Sure we can download it at home but what if you don't have a computer or I am a untrusting sole that does not like putting my hard earned cash or credit card on the NET.

These AMM's should be very simple yet have advanced features for Audiophiles to select higher bit rates and different formats instead of just MP3's at no extra charge.

We should be able to walk up to the music store AMM and plug our MP3 player or flash drive or SD card, XD card etc... trial the music we want if necessary then load 1,2 3 or as many songs as we want for a reasonable price say 50c a song and less for 20 or more and a $1 for latest release popular stuff. And also charge seperate for the album art and videos and the making of and wallpaper and screensaver etc. would you like the Best of with that its only $2 extra get the picture....and of course the AMM would give you an itemised receipt for the music you purchase.

That way I can see the world of piracy changing for the better, kids will hear a songs they like on the radio and on the way home from school pop into their local shopping centre plug into the AMM and pay for there music and thats just the tip of the ice burg.

At the point we are at now the RIAA must accept they cant beat piracy and they are with their current efforts alienating themselves so they must make piracy seem pointless to the consumer and give them a sence of ownership when they purchase their music it must be playable where ever thay want it. Then it will be frowned upon to pirate music because everything has be done to make it available,flexible,reasonable. Believe me it is rarely frowned upon now and commonly the norm.

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Encourage P2P to increase lawsuit revenues

Music on USB is pointless. For music I am looking for:

No DRM

High quality FLAC

Still no DRM

A clear digitally signed license allowing me to listen to the music on my own devices, and to play it for others in my own home.

A clear statement about how much money went to musicians and song writers.

No DRM

If the recording industry wants money from honest people, they can get it by treating them fairly. There is no technical measure that will prevent illegal distribution, and no need for one:

Suing children for illegally distributing music on P2P is OK with me. Its a big revenue stream from dishonest people, so I can understand why the RIAA encourages people to distribute. I would like to see some of that money going to musicians and song writers, but perhaps I just live in a dream world.

A more useful service would be to let me go into a shop, plug my laptop into their network, pay for a film and download it. Although it is possible to download films from the internet, it gives money to the telco's, and they have plenty. I would prefer to see a higher proportion of the money I spend on films going to people involved in creating them. (My laptop harddisk does 44MB/s, but it is 7200rpm. Other people should expect to wait 3 minutes to download a DVD over a local network.)

Standard flash memory misunderstandings: Each sector of flash memory can be written a limitted number of times. Years ago this was about 10,000 but now 100,000 is considered small. USB storage devices are supposed to map unchanging content onto worn sectors to improve the life time of the device. Cheap USB storage devices have poor wear levelling algorithms, so they die quickly.

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How asinine!

If I don't want a collection of CDs cluttering up my house, what the hell would I want a drawer full of USB keys for? Then there's the millions of these which will collect dust or go to landfills - huge waste issues. And since Fair Use is anathema to the record biz, you'll have to actually insert the stick to play the tune. Simply stupid!

What moron came up with this idea, and what committee of morons thought it was a good idea?

Here's the way to do USB sticks: Walk into a shop, buy a track, and copy it to YOUR OWN keydrive, DRM-free. I won't hold my breath...

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One simple point

Did it occur to anyone to see if the USB was read only. If so then a real waste of money, cause I can't re-use it if I don't like the song anymore.

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Joke

Most Interesting!

Most interesting now we have music with an expiry date to self delete too by supplying it on a flash drive !

Given the US Customs penchant for confiscating computer hard drives I can see a Customs Officer opening a laptop bag storage flap and spying all these new USB music sticks and confiscating the lot for further investigation ! Then defacing your passport throwing you into a rank holding cell for the next 48 hours and permanently cancelling your US Entry Visa and ignoring your requests to see any lawyer or diplomatic staff.

After this indignity literally toss you on the next flight home and say "Kid we don't like your kind in this country go home and don't come back !" .

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Black Helicopters

But what if they're playing the long game

If I were a forward thinking pigopolist, what I'd do is, at the start, release the music in a non-drm lossless format, of a quality *greater* than is currently available on CD *or* vinyl but for a similar price. Sit back and bask in the reflected glow of astonished but greatful punters for, ooh say about the 36 months that will be required for market penatration to be total with USB playback devices (USB-PD) (both windows and mac based) and the complete distruction of the CD and vinyl markets. Then announce that dispite thier mumnificence and thier trust of the said punters not to rip them off, piracy remains as big a problem as it ever was and as of tomorrow all USB stick music would unfortunately have to be DRM'ed up to the gills but would ship with a *free* copy of the required software on every stick to enable playback on said USB-PDs. Of course, those of us who are savvy to this sort of fuckery will squeal like Paris at the opening of a shoe shop, but yer person on the Clapham omnibus? Probably just shrug and pony up the dough...

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Alien

Interesting collectors item

Consider that they will probably come in heat shrinked wrapping which is impossible to take off without getting out a big knife (I do 'cos its more fun), I see a small niche market for collectors of sealed items.Another format, another potential bit of promo kit. I don't care about quality of the recording I care about future resale value and collectabliltiy. After all, that is part of the fun of collecting and owning music isn't it?

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Flame

new formats

i agree in the fact we need a new format, cd is old now and dvd audio... well what happened to it?

CD's although perfect quality are large in size and dont offer anything fantastic. well mini dvd's are around why did noone think to just bung a cd's worth onto a mini dvd? that would cut down space and offer the same if not more space. If this isnt a good enough solution, the data density of blueray is huge in comparison, imagine what little size is needed to fit a high quality cd's worth, it would be tiny. Innovation doesnt have to be leaps and bounds, just enough everynow and again to keep us interested!

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Silver badge

Might be a good idea

The point is like this, consumers want to get something for their money. Currently if you buy music you get a PVC disk with some bits on, or a small part of those bits for download. People are actually paying more for getting a vinyl disc with the information inscribed in an analog form.

So what do you get here? You get an USB-stick which also contains music.

However to correctly judge this format, some crucial pieces of information are missing:

1. Is there any DRM on this format?

2. Can the old content be deleted?

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Joe
Stop

Gosh!

This really is a non-starter at Reg Club, isn't it? (Dreadful idea though, I agree with the general consensus here.)

The rest of the world really should start consulting us before making decisions like this!

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Anonymous Coward

I was wondering what would happen to...

the massive stockpiles of 32/64/128/256 & 512MB usb sticks. They finally found a way to reuse them, well that and breakfast cereal box giveaways ...

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Paris Hilton

CD's not "cool"?

Most CD's are cool, except the ones with any music on it from any band that made it to the top in the last 10 years (with a couple, yes two, exceptions) ... I have about 10 000 songs at home, most, 95 or 96% legally purchased (the other 4% are songs you just cannot find - small indie bands from vanished labels) and the only artist I have that came out in the last 10 years is Keane! wtf? Am I getting old!

I bought all the music I dreamt of when I was a student but could not afford. What new stuff do they have to offer? Now I revert to classical music, when I buy stuff, because there just isn't anything new coming out ... and no, I have a few U2's from 80's and 90's ... but even their new stuff is boring ...

CD's, Digi CD (that CD plus format you can get with "better" audio), USB, MINI-DISK etc who cares ? give us quality entertainment! no brtiney, dillon, desreee (sorry, i dunno how to spell these weird names) and these other weirdos that call themself artists and perform playback allthetime- and please, once you have found something that is even so-so, do not have the radio/tv/whatever broadcast it more than 3 times a day.

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Unhappy

missing the point?

Lol i seam to remember reading "pussycat dolls" in the article.... do i want to hear that in high quality?? it wont make it sound any better so i don't think music quality is an issue =)

Heh anyway, what a retarded idea....

so i pay more, get a lower quality format... DRM... malware... no album art....can't play it in my hi fi system...

what a great step backwards!

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It's about time

CD is dead. It's too big and doesn't hold enough. USB flash drives are the best portable storage solutions around. Let's hope Sony doesn't put a virus on it.

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flaws

I can see a couple of flaws releasing music on pendrive:

- Will the stick be pre-infected with a virus like many of Sony's CDs?

- Will The songs be encoded at a format I don't want i.e. WMA 64kbps with it's cumbersome DRM?

- How many car radios have a thumb drive reader? Now compare: How many car radios have a CD deck built in or added on?

- What if my pesky little sister comes into my room, takes my thumb drive, formats it, and uses it to store her assignments instead? Heck, what if my thumb drive gets infected with a virus somehow? Or accidentally goes into the wash?

- US$3.50 More?

- Does a thumb drive fall under Amazon's policy of exporting music? I can buy a music CD off Amazon and have it shipped internationally to where I am. Amazon doesn't ship USB thumbs overseas, nor does it allow international buyers onto it's unbox service. Buy locally? The stuff I listen to is not sold locally.

No thanks, I prefer CDs for plenty of good reasons.

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how long would the connector last?

Im just wondering how long before the physical USB connector wore out, on the music device itslef but especially on the host. The connectors look fragile to me an i have already had one self dustruct on a keyboard.

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Happy

temporary music?

I hope we are not forgetting that flash memory is not permanent - eventually the data leaks away. Some time ago I heard the figure ten years touted as the expected lifespan. Perhaps its greater by now, but enyhow lets hope people realise that eveutally the music on the sticks will evaporate.

Of course foe the record companies this is a wonderful feature, and I suspect one of the main reasons behind the move.

Of course on the other hand todays music is such shite that it is altogether a good thing that it wont be permanent.

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Alert

I know, believe me.

Just so you know, the Universal releases will not be DRM'd. They are high bit rate MP3s. So with this in mind, it is better than download, also the memory is re-usable so you have an artist branded memory stick. Maybe not as bad as most reggers think?

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Anonymous Coward

Vynil?

What ever happened to the old analogue music?

I still buy vynil, but mainly CDs these days. I'll give in to digital on a CD, but I don't buy and download music online - I like having the whole deal, not just a file on the harddrive.

Personally I don't really want to buy a new sound system just to play off usb sticks - I like the one I have.

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Jobs Horns

Not very Eco-Friendly

As somebody who has worked a great deal in the plastics industry, I can say this is not a very "eco-friendly" alternative, Even if the flash drives take a small fraction of the plastic of a CD and Jewel Case, they'll be packaged in PVC clamshells large enough to make it difficult for shoplifters from smuggling them out of the stores. The last two SD chips I bought for my current mp3 player had more plastic hitting the trash can before the chip was even used than a CD has if you just threw it away without opening it, and it's environmentally the most damaging form of plastic made.

As for the DRM issues... we all know that eventually we'll all get stuck with the RIAA's thumb(drives) up our tailpipes anyways. But I'd want some form of assurance that I'd be able to A) safeguard my purchase, B) transfer them to my NON-APPLE $20.00 mp3 player, and C) transfer them to a CD to play in my car.

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Happy

Doesn't affect me....

I still buy vinyl and I'll continue to buy vinyl. Vinyl is best.

woohoo to vinyl.

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Well there goes quality...

....if they get rid of CD's then that's it really, quality music and recordings has gone, sure CD may not be the be all and end all of quality, but i've not yet heard an SACD/DVD-Audio player than can outperform a genuine top quality CD player.. but people like me who appreciate music and buy a lot of CDs probably don't matter compared to yoofs who enjoy playing music through their mobile phone whilst walking down the high street like dirty harry.

I really hope they see sense and stick with the decent format that offers portability, extendability and most of all quality!

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Go

USB is the best thing since vinyl

Dunno about you lot, but I have gotten well sick of supposedly eternal CDs becoming scratched and unusable after a week or two of hard handling in the car, mostly by the kids. I've had to make copies of every CD I bought and use that for the few weeks that it might last. The result has been stacks of useless silver disks all over the place or fast-forwarding to find a non-skipping track.

Recently I bought a new car stereo with an SD slot, a USB port and an AUX jack, and life has become so much simpler. I bought a 1GB key for each of the 3 sprogs and leave them to put whatever they want on them - and no more burning of entire CDs just to add one song to the playlists. No more CDs in fact. They take turns with the keys, or plug their mp3 players into the USB port or the AUX jack, and control it all by the remote.

Everything that I want to hear, well OK, that they DON'T want to hear, is on my own key.

And the entire collection is stored in the hitherto-defunct ashtray!

The player will also rip from CD to USB so I only need to play a new CD once on the way home from buying it...

And if 1GB isn't enough space for them? Tough, they can delete something that they probably never listened to anyway.

As for vinyl, I'm still playing albums that were pressed over 30 years ago.

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Stop

I Bought Two USB Singles

This year I bought two of these USBSingles.

I can confirm both came in a shrink wrapped piece of card the size of a paper cdsingle, i.e. not a jewel case single.

Both had tracks on it with video content too.

Guess what, NON DRM too.

However, the quality was awful, they were encoded at 160kbs and the memory sticks were 64mb.

Now, I won't buy anymore, but I would rather have HQ DRM music on the stick than crappy quality tunes.

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