Business Times – 11 Apr 2008
Pop albums with an Opendisc feature into your PC to enjoy exclusive online content, says CHRISTOPHER LIM
THE next time you buy a music CD, don’t just put it into the hi-fi system in your car or at home. Instead, run it in your computer and you might just find that there’s more value bundled with it than meets the eye, thanks to a feature called Opendisc.
Enhanced CDs have been around for years, allowing you to play videos and music-related games on your PC. In that case, extra content resides on the CD. But physical storage is so passe these days, and doesn’t get updated.
These days, what many of your CDs act as are keys to an ever-expanding resource of exclusive online goodies. Look for albums labelled with the Opendisc logo, and the physical disc acts as your proof of purchase to secure websites. Some people might dismiss the list of content, such as interviews, as fluff thrown in merely for the sake of ostensibly adding value, but that’s usually not the case.
For example, KT Tunstall took the time to record a special video message for her fans on the Opendisc website for her latest album, Drastic Fantastic.
And EMI has gone even further by launching its EMI and Virgin Classics Club. You not only get to preview music, streamed at a compressed quality of 128kbps, but, in an extremely cool move, you even get to purchase downloadable tracks with points allocated to you for each CD you purchase. Single-disc albums are worth 100 points each, which is the cost of one downloadable track.
The best news for audiophiles is that these downloadable tracks are 320kbps MP3 files, which is the best possible fidelity for the compressed audio format.
This is even higher quality than Apple’s iTunes music store, which only has 256kbps files. Better still, the files are unfettered by digital rights management, which means you’re free to copy them to multiple computers, and use them on any portable music device without any technical restrictions.
Down the road, even higher quality music files, in so-called lossless formats superior to MP3, should become available, which makes sense for the classical market since fans of that genre are usually the most picky about sound quality, and are willing to invest in music equipment that will expose the flaws of inferior sound files.
Depending on what kind of Opendisc-enabled album you’ve purchased, you could also have access to podcasts and previews of unreleased albums. In a nod to the interactive nature of the Internet, you can even ask your favourite artist questions.
So, if you own an Opendisc and haven’t popped it into your PC yet, you could be missing out on high quality downloadable music and more.