My time as a board member of the Consumer Electronics Association’s Audio Board will end at the end of this year. Thanks to my friend Ray Kimber, I was welcomed to the board as the first record label among hundreds of hardware companies over 5 years ago. And I’ve enjoyed being a part of the organization. I’ve met a lot of interesting, knowledgeable and highly skilled people. I developed a demonstration disc for the CEA and was very pleased to be a part of several demonstration sessions including one held at Jungle City Studios a couple years ago. But the 2016 CEA Audio Board…or CTA if you want to start using the new name…will tackle the hard issues of hi-res audio and hi-res music without me. And not because I didn’t want to continue serving on the board.
I got an email announcing “The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)® is now the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)™. The change to ‘Technology’ reflects the breadth of our industry and how our membership has evolved and grown. As the industry has expanded, it’s time our name evolved, too.” I also read President and CEO Gary Shapiro’s explanation for the name change. It’s all about wanting to include companies outside of the traditional “electronics” circle…companies that produce apps, wireless products, etc. “The word ‘technology’ better defines what we have become and who we represent”.
I got to know Gary during my days working with Yoostar, a game start up that brought a product to market that allowed you to replace an actor in a movie scene or singer in a music video. Gary came to the AIX studio and played a number of roles including Dr. Frankenstein, Charlton Heston, and Cary Grant. He’s an energetic actor and did a really great job! I produced a short video promoting the game that was played during his opening keynote at the CES in 2008. It turned out he lives in the same town I grew up in Birmingham, Michigan and commutes to Washington DC. Very nice guy.
Last week, I received an invoice for my CTA membership dues for 2016. I find it a little curious that the newly named organization wants my money but won’t allow me to continue to participate on the audio board. The leadership of the audio board didn’t explain why I was told that I wouldn’t be welcome in the coming year. All they could say was that I wasn’t the only member that wouldn’t be returning. Another company Grooveshark, a very large music download site (now defunct), was also dropped from the board…but they were shut down after admitting that their business model depended on making millions of copyrighted tunes available without first securing licenses from the rights holders.
The CEA audio board isn’t the first board that I’ve served on and it won’t be the last. Upon learning that the group wasn’t interested in hearing my perspective on high-resolution audio and music any longer, I wrote to Gary and informed him what had transpired. He was cordial and wrote, “Life is better if you choose your battles carefully. Not everything can be the end of the world. Life is more enjoyable if you show some flexibility on the little stuff and only fight for the most important issues. My test is will it matter on my deathbed?”
Only fight for the most important issues? That’s what I thought I was doing…pushing for transparency, honestly, accuracy, and information when in reality the group wants “to convey the experiential side of music, it’s a win win for everyone and all that really matters”. I could write a whole post talking about the “experiential side of music” vs. the necessity to provide meaningful information to consumers about the realities of high-resolution music.
The new Hi-Res Music logo also made news this week. The major so-called “high-resolution” download sites are on board with the new logo and will be displaying it on their sites. The only requirement is that they also provide the digital specifications of the delivery format of the files…that’s all it takes to qualify for high-resolution status. What about provenance?
The CEA or the CTA could have been instrumental in clearing away the confusion…but it turns out that they and others are more interested in the short term profits of their member companies over the establishment of a growing marketplace and serving the needs of consumers. Maybe they should have changed the name to the Companies Selling Technology Association because they sure aren’t doing any favors to consumers.