It’s maybe instructive to go back to Steve Jobs, the iPod, and the labels. Back then I was close to a team (let’s call them T) trying to launch a label-approved, DRMed, with a better codec (related to AAC) than MP3, alternative to Napster. Here’s what happened:
Team T was trying to work with the labels kept getting more and more conditions from them, around DRM and royalties, that complicated the engineering, delayed the product, and ultimately made the business unviable.
Team T also met with Steve Jobs in Cupertino. Jobs despised their DRMed streaming plans, but loved their portable player prototype.
Apple introduced the iPod, supported by iTunes that “officially” was a way for Apple (and later Windows) users to rip their CDs to the portable device. In a feint to the labels, iPod/iTunes supported a DRMed version of AAC, but it was pretty much a loss leader. The reality is that people filled their iPods with rips, from their own collections, their friends’s, or file sharing sites. Jobs smiled, let the labels fume, and took the market.
Moral for today. If Jobs’s spirit still haunts Infinite Loop, I can’t imagine Apple Music conceding to a label-promoted restrictive codec. Nor Amazon, or Spotify, or … I could be wrong, of course, but I don’t see the labels having today even a fraction of the power they had 20+ years ago. And they lost back then.
I do not have the numbers that Roon has but it is in my opinion that you would have had even greater benefits than MQA by adopting DLNA. Which you didn’t. So why was that choice easier than this one (money wise)?
Consider going the Tidal way and separate to different subscriptions with different options and prices, one non MQA and one with MQA, or make MQA a kind of an addon thing for those who want it and let them pay the additional cost directly to MQA (and if you do it at cost for you then this may be your Switzerland).
Question: If I’m not using TIDAL or MQA at all (no MQA albums, TIDAL streaming quality set to Hi-Fi, audio devices set to No MQA Support and Core Decode set to no) do I still pay for it in the big picture? (since roon subscription costs the same, regardless).
Thinking now about why, I would say the the answer s "alternatives?. We vehemently knew with could do better than UPnP (and we did, with RAAT). It was more work to get it adopted, and slower out the gate as a solution, but we knew it was better, it would have been difficult to bootstrap RAAT if we had done UPnP support. We were also hopelessly naïve and optimistic back then
We aren’t planning to create or interested in creating an alternative to MQA.
In this situation, your payment to us would have $0 go to MQA.
You have a conflict in your statement however. You say “If I’m not using TIDAL” and then say “TIDAL streaming quality set to Hi-Fi”.
Regardless, I can’t speak to TIDAL’s contract with MQA, because I don’t know how and under what circumstances MQA gets paid (or not) if you pay/use TIDAL.
Nothing would ever be accomplished if it weren’t for people who didn’t know it was impossible!
That would be interesting to see. The book I referenced above makes it clear that one of the responsibilities of the product owner is to keep the essential supporters fat and happy, which would imply that MQA might even be paying TIDAL.
yah, but I have a feeling this wouldn’t happen. Even when explaining the general gist of our contract, I had a feeling of “uh… should I be doing this?”
Anyway, did you all hear about TIDAL offering new tiers? At face value (let’s stay on topic and avoid the SQ discussion here), it seems they are going from 1) lossy and 2) redbook/mqa/atmos to 3 options: 1) lossy, 2) redbook, 3) mqa/atmos
what was $10/$20 will now be $10/$15/$20
there is already debate about whether the middle tier will be “broken” MQA or actually “source” redbook, but let’s let that conversation happen elsewhere…
Is this a good move for TIDAL? I think so (it gives them a “high-res” offering and flexibility to compete with others.
Is it a good move for manufacturers? I think so, it will more clearly indicate whether their market wants MQA.
Is it a good move for MQA? I’m unsure – it could be brilliant or it could be a nail in the coffin. No more “can’t argue with free, eh?” argument.
Is it a good move for end-users? There will be people who are happy and people who are not. Not super interesting to discuss without understanding what is being offered.
Yeap, felt surprising that you did. No matter how little detail you gave, I don’t recall any of MQA’s other partners describing the relationship in that much detail, and that might explain why a few people don’t trust 'em.
The TIDAL app is just part of TIDAL, and TIDAL clearly is essential, Roon not so much, I’d say. After all, a software unfold is really just another manufacturer, and there are a lot of those, now, and the process is getting less expensive to incorporate (with the ESS chip and the XU216 firmware). Roon is certainly more influential than most, I’d think.
One of the points the book makes is that it’s important to keep your support coalition, your influentials and essentials, off-balance. To keep replacements for any disloyal members waiting in the wings, clearly visible. If Warner Music recants, for instance, they could go to UMG or Sony. If TIDAL recants, they could to to a different streaming service, or even start a new one. It’s not clear to me there’s a good replacement for Roon, but maybe JRiver or Plex would suddenly grow MQA capability.
This is all assuming MQA Ltd wants to dominate like Dolby, of course. Perhaps they don’t.
You don’t need to create alternatives to MQA, they were already here long before. One thing you can do (if you are really considering the Switzerland approach) is to give the users full control to the MQA from the streaming options to the direct payment for MQA (and you’ll probably end up doing it since Tidal is now separating the subscriptions).
There is an if and an or there…
My question was raised by your statement somewhere here that you are paying for MQA (core decode) and since the subscription is one for all it (still) looks (to me) like that cost comes my way no matter what.
The terms are complicated and not worth going into, but simply put: if you don’t core decode, we don’t pay.
When we introduced MQA support, we didn’t raise the price, so MQA has always been a cost center for us. If you core decode, we make less profit. If you don’t core decode, we make more profit. It’s almost that simple.
But it seems there is a better new way to avoid the tax… Just stop subscribing to TIDAL “HiFi+”. Drop to the new middle tier of “HiFi” and you won’t get MQA capabilities.
Consumers are, on the whole, gullible. Give them a ‘reason’ to spend their hard-earned-money on something new and shiny, and you’ll get takers. For example, does the average consumer really benefit/appreciate from 4K programming over 1080/HD? Does MQA sound that much better than MP3 via your smartphone on a noisy train? Of course not.
But then the ‘herd effect’ takes over, especially when mainstream publications like ‘What Hi-Fi’ push MQA as the new must-have. Suddenly, an idea has momentum, and consumers view something like MQA as absolutely essential in their next purchase, even though the vast majority probably won’t even use it.
MQA is just another way to extract money from people. Does it have any advantages for someone like me? Of course not. I stream High-Res from Qobuz. I don’t have a need for MQA.
MQA is just another way for manufacturers to try and differentiate themselves from the pack. And just another way to extract even more money from the gullible masses on the promise of something better.