Popkomm 2002: SACD Industry Update

Popkomm 2002, billed as “The Fair for Pop Music and Entertainment” was held last weekend at the Congress Center West, Cologne Trade Fair in Germany. During the Popkomm 2002 event, the developers of the SACD format (Sony & Philips) held an industry update on the state of SACD in Europe as well as a concert by a group that has an upcoming Multichannel SACD. Here are some of the highlights from that event.

Preview of New Multichannel SACD by Slovo
A new band formed by former Faithless guitarist, Dave Randall named Slovo headlined the opening concert at Popkomm 2002. The group performed some songs from their upcoming Multichannel SACD entitled “Nommo”. The SACD of this new album is slated for release on RuffLife Records in Europe on August 26th.

SACD Disc Catalog and Hardware Choices Continue to Grow
At Popkomm 2002, the co-developers of the SACD format, Sony and Philips, reported that there are now more than 750 Super Audio CD titles available worldwide. This total includes increasing numbers of both multi-channel SACD releases and hybrid SACD discs.

It was also reported that more than 20 manufacturers have introduced consumer equipment with SACD playback ranging from high-end systems costing multi thousand Euro to entry-level players priced below Euro 299. Sony and Philips officials also said that Super Audio CD players are available in many different categories, including home-cinema-in-a-box systems.

“A major area of sales growth is in the combination Super Audio CD / DVD-Video players,” commented Jos Bruins, Marketing Director at Philips Intellectual Property & Standards. “The other big pull for Super Audio CD is its high quality multi-channel sound, which enfolds the listener in a new sensory experience.”

New SACD Releases Planned by Sony Music Europe
Sony Music Europe has a number of Super Audio CD titles lined up for release in autumn 2002. By the end of the year Sony Music alone will have approximately 200 titles available on Super Audio CD.

On the pop front there are several new SACD releases planned for Europe from Aerosmith (Oh Yeah!: Ultimate Hits), David Bowie (Heathen), Korn (Untouchables), Jennifer Lopez (J-Lo), Oasis (Heathen Chemistry and (What’s the Story) Morning Glory), Ozzy Osbourne (Live at Budokan), Sade (Lovers Live) and Bruce Springsteen (Live in NYC).

There will also be a number of jazz SACD releases in Europe as well including releases from legends such as Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis (In A Silent Way and Sketches of Spain) and Charles Mingus as well as classical titles, amongst many, include releases from Leonard Bernstein (Dvorak Symphony #9, Gershwin & Groefe and Mahler #1), Glenn Gould (Bach: Goldberg Variations, Bach: Italian Concerto and Bach: 2&3 Part Inventions), Yo Yo Ma, Murray Perahia (Mozart Concerto for Piano) and Isaac Stern (Vivaldi: Four Seasons and Mendelssohn/Tchaikovsky).

Universal Music Group to Distribute Rolling Stones SACD Series
The world’s largest record company, Universal Music Group has announced its adoption of Super Audio CD. “By making our music available on Super Audio CD, UMG hopes to help drive the growth of this high-quality, secure music format,” said Larry Kenswil, President eLabs, Universal Music Group. “With its many benefits for consumers and recording artists, Super Audio CD has the potential to become a standard for the industry.”

As an early sign of its commitment to the format, Universal Music International, together with ABKCO Records has announced a major Super Audio CD release of the Rolling Stones’ early recordings. The entirety of the Rolling Stones catalogue, originally released in the 60’s and early 70’s on ABKCO/Decca in Europe has been meticulously restored and will be re-released on a series of dual layer hybrid Super Audio CDs under the banner ABKCO’S The Rolling Stones Remastered Series.

Twenty-two albums including Let It Bleed, Out of Our Heads, December’s Children, Beggars Banquet, 12×5 and The Rolling Stones, Now! are part of the most comprehensive single artist re-issue series ever undertaken.

All 22 albums in “ABKCO’s The Rolling Stones Remastered Series” will be released in North America by ABKCO Records, and throughout the rest of the world by Universal Music International. Featuring tracks such as Sympathy For The Devil, Under My Thumb, Street Fighting Man, Mother’s Little Helper, The Last Time and (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, the 22 albums include the original U.K. versions of “Aftermath”, “Out Of Our Heads” and “Between The Buttons”.

Julian Huntly, VP Catalogue Marketing at UMG, says: “This is easily one of the most comprehensive single artist re-issue series ever undertaken. The albums were first released in CD format in 1986, and the newly re-mastered series delivers a superb experience at the highest possible audio fidelity for fans and newcomers to the band alike.”

SACD Offers Added Value and Security
Sony and Philips also stated that “a strong feature of Super Audio CD is the strong defense it offers against music piracy. With five independent forms of protection, Phillips and Sony believe that this format offers unrivaled protection for record companies and artists.”

David Walstra, Director, Sony Super Audio CD Business Centre (Europe), feels that Super Audio CD is very close to gaining its critical mass as a viable recording format. “We recognize a growing acceptance and understanding by the major record companies for the added value that multi-channel Super Audio CD brings to a recording. Also, there is a growing awareness that this new format provides the means to reduce music piracy in the short term.”