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SanDisk, record labels introduce new music format

SanDisk, record labels introduce new music format

SanDisk has introduced a new physical music format dubbed slotMusic in conjunction with the four major record labels.

SanDisk has introduced a new physical music format dubbed slotMusic in conjunction with the four major record labels—EMI, Sony BMG, Universal and Warner.

slotMusic is essentially an entire album shipped on a 1GB microSD card, enabling consumers to purchase and listen to music on their microSD-equipped phones or MP3 players without needing a PC or Internet connection.

The albums will use the MP3 format and will be encoded at up to 320kbps, said a company statement.

According to the flash memory giant, slotMusic cards will come with a tiny USB sleeve which will ensure “seamless interoperability with all computers.” The company then added that slotMusic cards will work in “a growing number of in-car sound systems” as well.

Interestingly, SanDisk said that the slotMusic cards will not come with embedded DRM systems, as it believes they interfere with the customer’s personal use. On that note, it looks like at least one industry heavyweight has managed to get the recording industry to listen to its customers – I guess it’s better late than never!

What’s more, consumers will be able to add their own content onto their slotMusic cards, creating their own personalised plug-and-play media library.

SanDisk hasn’t given a date for when slotMusic cards will be available but it said that the media will be on sale first in brick-and-mortar stores throughout the US, including chains like Wal-Mart and Best Buy, before expanding over into Europe at a later date.

Do you think this is a good move for the record industry? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

36 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
Kode 22nd September 2008, 14:14 Quote
The idea is nice, but its going to be too easy to lose them
DXR_13KE 22nd September 2008, 14:15 Quote
very nice idea.
steveo_mcg 22nd September 2008, 14:28 Quote
If your going to buy a drm-free physical product why not just buy cd's and rip em, i don't get this.
Veles 22nd September 2008, 14:33 Quote
Pointless, it's just a micro SD card that comes pre-loaded with a few songs.
perplekks45 22nd September 2008, 14:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Veles
Pointless, it's just a micro SD card that comes pre-loaded with a few songs.

You forgot to mention the hefty premium they will charge for "making it all fit on just one SD card"... :|

But I definitely agree: Pointless.
proxess 22nd September 2008, 14:40 Quote
Well... an album is just a cd with music burnt onto them. Heck, buy vinil!

Veles, weak excuse.

I think its a nice idea. If its 1gb cards, maybe we can have more music for the price of less?! Even better, withour DRM? Pretty nice. Finally seems like people are getting things through their thick skulls!
|V| 4 L k i 3 R 22nd September 2008, 14:50 Quote
Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the 320 lower than CD quality? Also, encoding in a lossless format such as mp3 will undoubtedly turn off the hi-fi'ers.
Goty 22nd September 2008, 14:51 Quote
It's a good idea, but, as previously mentioned, it would be too darn easy to lose a bunch of microSD cards. Also, if these cost anything over about $10 USD, it just wouldn't be worth it.
steveo_mcg 22nd September 2008, 14:51 Quote
Quote:

What’s more, consumers will be able to add their own content onto their slotMusic cards, creating their own personalised plug-and-play media library.

Much like one can do now on the micro sd card that came free with your phone. Phones, car hifi and most devices that use micro-sd are such low audio quality that you'd be better ripping at a lower vbr and getting more on your own free to <£5 card. Proxes I still don't get it your supporting paying a (probable) premium for a card with lossy encoding, all its saving is the few minutes it takes to rip a cd and copy the results to a card and loosing the space taken up by the filler on most albums.
pizan 22nd September 2008, 15:02 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by steveo_mcg
Much like one can do now on the micro sd card that came free with your phone.

Where do you get free microSD cards with your phone. I guess i got ripped off spending $5 on mine.
Veles 22nd September 2008, 15:05 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by proxess
Well... an album is just a cd with music burnt onto them. Heck, buy vinil!

Veles, weak excuse.

I think its a nice idea. If its 1gb cards, maybe we can have more music for the price of less?! Even better, without DRM? Pretty nice. Finally seems like people are getting things through their thick skulls!

I don't get it? Why is it a weak excuse? You're just buying a small microSD card for a premium price because it comes with a few songs. Yeah no DRM, whoopty-****ing-doo, none of my mp3s have DRM on them anyway.

Your "Heck, buy vinyl" comment is rather retarded. Why buy a CD? It's higher quality than you can get with most mp3 downloads and it's incredibly easy to rip to your computer. You're effectively buying whatever quality mp3s you like, without any DRM, and a backup of those mp3s. With prices online it's not really any more expensive than buying an album of mp3s off an online music store. When you buy a vinyl, unless you have some rather expensive kit you can't get it ripped to a computer.
Mentai 22nd September 2008, 15:07 Quote
If the cards are 1gb they should be able to fill it with lossless music, not "up to" 320kbps. 320kbps should be the minimum, not the maximum.
proxess 22nd September 2008, 15:32 Quote
A CD is 320kbps. You were complaining about the quality, thats why i suggested vinyl, thats real lossless.
Obviously the reason they chose mp3 is because it works on pretty much anything. I'd rather they have it in FLAC but that wouldn't sell as much now would it? Advanced Modern Capitalism baby!

But heck, with such strong opposition your showing towards a first-step away from DRM from big companies, they might as well keep the DRM and you just keep torrenting those albums.
mclean007 22nd September 2008, 15:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mentai
If the cards are 1gb they should be able to fill it with lossless music, not "up to" 320kbps. 320kbps should be the minimum, not the maximum.
If they're properly encoded, I defy you to tell the difference in a blind test between 320 kbps MP3 and the CD original. The overwhelming majority of people (I'm talking 99.9%+) can't even tell lame -v2 (~190 kbps) or even -v4 (~165 kbps). Re "minimum not maximum", note that 320 kbps is the maximum bitrate supported by the MP3 standard.

However, I agree that, as a matter of principle, lossy compression shouldn't be used where it isn't needed, as it hampers your ability to re-encode to a lower bitrate (say to fit more tracks on your MP3 player) without generation loss. There is no reason why an album shipped on a 1GB SD card should be lossily compressed - given the maximum capacity of a CD is less than 1GB, you could have uncompressed CD audio on there, or you could use FLAC or a similar lossless codec. If they're worried about compatibility, they should have a high quality (say -v2 / 190 kbps) MP3 version for maximum compatibility and a FLAC version for archival / re-encoding purposes. Both would easily fit on a 1GB card. This is how all my new music is ripped - high quality MP3 for on the go, lossless (FLAC) for listening at home and to avoid having to re-rip if I choose e.g. to switch to OGG Vorbis in future. As and when I have time, I'll go back and re-rip all my old CDs to FLAC as well.
steveo_mcg 22nd September 2008, 15:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by proxess


But heck, with such strong opposition your showing towards a first-step away from DRM from big companies, they might as well keep the DRM and you just keep torrenting those albums.

But its still a step back, its just an expensive less ubiquitous way of getting your music if you want to buy your music in a physical medium and DRM free buy cds. This is not an alternative to itunes, not that i can see, its a way to push another format on the market one only need look at mini disk to see how much the market needs it.
mclean007 22nd September 2008, 15:49 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by proxess
A CD is 320kbps. You were complaining about the quality, thats why i suggested vinyl, thats real lossless.
Obviously the reason they chose mp3 is because it works on pretty much anything. I'd rather they have it in FLAC but that wouldn't sell as much now would it? Advanced Modern Capitalism baby!
No, a CD is not 320 kbps, though it is virtually indistinguishable from a well encoded 320 kbps MP3. CD audio is uncompressed 44.1 kHz, 16-bit stereo (i.e. 44,100 x 16 x 2 = ~1,410 kbps).

As I say in my previous post, they could (should?) have FLAC and a sensible high bitrate MP3 (e.g. lame -v2, which is transparent to almost all listeners on studio quality equipment), both of which for a standard single album would easily fit on a 1GB SD card.

Why do you say vinyl is "lossless"? Every time you listen to an LP, it degrades ever so slightly in quality as the needle carves out the groove just a little. Try listening to an old LP that has been played often (especially if it has been played on lower quality decks, which tend to do more damage as the styli are of a lower quality and the arms are poorly balanced, so the stylus weighs more heavily on the groove), and tell me it is "lossless". Now put your favourite MP3 or CD on repeat for a hundred years and tell me if it has degraded.
ZERO <ibis> 22nd September 2008, 16:22 Quote
If they are doing 1gb why not have it in 2 formats the album in shit mp3 at like 192kbs and then everything in flac at lossless. Then everyone is happy and hi-fiers will really like it because the loseless is a direct studio rip making it a lot better than what they could have gotten off a CD.
E.E.L. Ambiense 22nd September 2008, 16:25 Quote
:facepalm: Oh man... Queue the DRM issues again, regardless what they say, lol.

Honestly, for the money, I'd just get my own cards and drop my own personal rips onto it for a fraction of the cost.
Tim S 22nd September 2008, 16:38 Quote
NYT 'sauce' says that they'll cost $7-10 USD... that's about the price of a CD (in the US), isn't it?
E.E.L. Ambiense 22nd September 2008, 16:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim S
NYT 'sauce' says that they'll cost $7-10 USD... that's about the price of a CD (in the US), isn't it?

That's probably a little on the low side. I'd say around $12 or higher. Sometimes lower, but it just depends on where you're buying it and what artist(s) it is. I generally buy CD's online anyways, so that may be inaccurate.
Perforated 22nd September 2008, 17:33 Quote
$7 for an album? Plus shipping on something so small could be very low indeed, so the UK purchaser could really benefit. I'd actually consider paying money for it - if, as has been suggested, it came with a lossless FLAC version (similar to the recent NIN album, where they offered about 4 download options).

I appreciate a high bitrate - I've spent enough on audio equipment to make the most of decent sound quality (though confess the last few levels can be nigh-on indistinguishable, but at least with lossless you *know*!)

As for Steveo's "Phones, car hifi and most devices that use micro-sd are such low audio quality..." - Sandisk's own Sansa range takes MiniSD, and my Fuze, though not state-of-the-art, is actually pretty good, thanks!

A step in the right direction, let's hope it progresses logically :)
Ending Credits 22nd September 2008, 17:49 Quote
You can get 8GB versions of these for about £10 which is more than most MP3 players can store. I actually have a lot of my favourite music on one of these anyway to listen to on my Nintendo DS and my Zen has SD card support.

I like having a collection of CDs with cases personally. I'll probably keep these in their cases.
Phil Rhodes 22nd September 2008, 18:44 Quote
What's the point?

Don't we already have entirely too many flash card formats?

P
pendragon 22nd September 2008, 19:08 Quote
i've seen worse ideas than this. I'm no audio snob, so 320 is just fine for me (and most people too, I'd argue). I think it boils down to price/availability .. and like others have said.. they might be too easy to lose/break
OleJ 22nd September 2008, 19:47 Quote
Wooo! Been waiting 6 years to see this. And now it's a completely obsolete concept...
Bundle them with the albums on CD and you'll give customers the ultimate reason to still buy physical media. This will mean you won't have to rip or convert your bought albums. So if you want quality audio you use the CD and if you want portable audio you use the card.

"Letting" customers add content to the memory card is plainly a joke and more just hints at this being a superfluous format. If you want to create your own music flash cards then you'd rather buy a larger card and gather everything on that.

And hooray for the non-drm nonetheless.
HandMadeAndroid 22nd September 2008, 19:58 Quote
Thats gonna change the world.
chrisb2e9 22nd September 2008, 21:30 Quote
I like the idea. Only problem that I have is how do you know what songs are on what chip? You cant exactly write the name of an album on the tiny mem cards that fit into a cell phone.
CD's are old, its about time they get replaced. this is an idea that is just starting out. Give it a year or two to evolve and no one will want cd's again.
Perforated 22nd September 2008, 22:14 Quote
BARCODES! :D

heheheheh
Cthippo 23rd September 2008, 06:21 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Perforated
BARCODES! :D

Actually, that's sort of an interesting idea. Some of the moderrn "barcodes" (the weird square ones) have a fairly high data density. i wonder how long a barcode would have to be to encode an entire song.
IanW 23rd September 2008, 07:42 Quote
[sarcasm]

Of course, the fact that Sandisk already makes MP3 players with MicroSD card slots has NOTHING to do with the chosen format.

[/sarcasm]
Spaceraver 23rd September 2008, 08:30 Quote
Options, options, options.
You can never have too many.
Tho I would like to see FLAC instead.
perplekks45 23rd September 2008, 08:33 Quote
So does nearly every other MP3 player manufacturer...

I like the idea of lossless files being included and yes I would definitely pay 2-3$ more to get lossless + mp3. I don't see that happen though. SanDisk are not NiN after all or the record labels won't agree or they'd charge the customer (us) a hell of a lot of a premium.

The more I think about that the less I believe it's going to happen. Damn you, "thinking"!
mmorgue 23rd September 2008, 10:33 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Veles
Pointless, it's just a micro SD card that comes pre-loaded with a few songs.

What, and a big, spinning disk of plastic that is easily scratched isn't?

This micro SD solution doesn't fix all the issues with current music/film media, but it does address some of the key issues with a CD replacement : provides people with a "physical" medium that is stable, robust and interoperable and usable without internet access.
Cupboard 23rd September 2008, 13:51 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by mmorgue
What, and a big, spinning disk of plastic that is easily scratched isn't?

This micro SD solution doesn't fix all the issues with current music/film media, but it does address some of the key issues with a CD replacement : provides people with a "physical" medium that is stable, robust and interoperable and usable without internet access.

I am not entirely sure where you are coming from - you don't need internet access to play a CD and flash memory is less stable than a CD, lasting about 10 years instead of 50+ (50 is a figure I have heard for regularly used CDs)
Ross1 12th March 2009, 11:18 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cupboard
Quote:
Originally Posted by mmorgue
What, and a big, spinning disk of plastic that is easily scratched isn't?

This micro SD solution doesn't fix all the issues with current music/film media, but it does address some of the key issues with a CD replacement : provides people with a "physical" medium that is stable, robust and interoperable and usable without internet access.

I am not entirely sure where you are coming from - you don't need internet access to play a CD and flash memory is less stable than a CD, lasting about 10 years instead of 50+ (50 is a figure I have heard for regularly used CDs)

even well stored pressed cd's will often degrade after 10-20 years. Given Cd's havent even been around for 30 years, i find the figure of 50 years fairly amusing (i know test conditions could be sort of generated to simulate 50 years, but i prefer real world evidence). You certainly cannot count on them to last 50 years, not even if you had kept 3-4 of the same disk.

As for the actual news item..... this is what they already were doing with movies if memory serves (except with DRM). Offer low quality media on a small capacity card. I dont see how either is desirable to the consumer.
Pookeyhead 12th March 2009, 11:33 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by steveo_mcg
If your going to buy a drm-free physical product why not just buy cd's and rip em, i don't get this.


Agreed. After a while, you'll just end up with hundreds of SD cards lying around, which is wasteful, costly, and pointless.

Just buy the CD, rip it, then put it on whatever media you want.


I'm just not seeing the point of this.

I've got CDs that I bought in 1983 when they were first available, and they're still fine. Who's to say that media cards will be working in 50 years time? CD, media card.. for all we know, they'll be so obsolete that you'll not have any equipment to play them on anyway. Making digital media last so long is pointless. We would have backed it all up onto whatever new media becomes available many times before the discs deteriorate.

It's data.... just copy it to your new devices as and when they becomes available. The fact is, my digital music collection on my hard drive will probably outlast the CDs they were ripped from, simply because it will migrate to whatever media I'm using at the time.
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