Deutsche Grammophon has opened a wonderful online music store for classical music enthusiasts, the DG Web Shop, which offers quality and availability unlike any other online store, including iTunes.
Nearly 2,400 classical DG albums will be available for download in the best MP3 quality available — 320 kbps — which exceeds the download standard of 128-192 kbps and the “quality” standard of 256 kbps offered by EMI on iTunes* and at AmazonMP3 (see our review).
The DG Web Shop is also open to countries not serviced by other online music retailers, including China, India, Latin America, South Africa, and Central and Eastern Europe.
Pricing ranges from $1.29/euro for titles with playing times up to seven minutes, while regular-length recordings with or without “e-booklets” will sell for $10.99/euro-$11.99/euro.
DG is also making 600 out-of-print titles available at the DG Web Shop, with more rarities to follow. DG’s goal is to digitize all the great Deutsche Grammophon recordings, which date back to when the company was founded in Hanover, Germany, in 1898.
“Our company was founded over 119 years ago, and since then it has stood for innovation and quality,” said Michael Lang, DG president. “During the development of our new web shop, we remained true to these principles as we continue to expand the digital music marketplace with our range of download services.”
Being a sucker for any digital music download store, I immediately tried out the DG Web Shop and found it incredibly easy to use. My only complaint is that the home page is a bit crowded with so much information, although I did find a recording by Helene Grimaud I liked.
In about two minutes, I registered, paid, and was downloading the recording (using a download manger or a plain zip file), a 30-page PDF booklet, and the album cover. Before the purchase I could sample clips, visit an artist’s website, and check out other recordings.
It’s what the digital music buying experience is all about — and should be about. No digital rights management, meaning I can play the album on any player. High quality downloads. Informative store. Easy purchasing and downloading.
And the irony isn’t lost on me. DG is owned by Universal Music Group, one of the staunches proponents of DRM copyright protection, even while it dabbles in DRM-free sales. Most classical compositions are no longer protected by copyright, but the majority of recorded performances are.
* Ed. iTunes’ 256 kbps tracks use the more efficient AAC codec and therefore offer arguably better audio quality than their MP3 equivalents.