Over on my Managing Rights Management blog, I've written about Media Rights Technologies' audio and video digital rights management offerings. Hank Risan and the gang are also the driving force behind BlueBeat.com.
Among their advisors is Gerd Leonhard who together with David Kusek wrote The Future Of Music Book, which has been the subject of blogicles here. Kusek and Leonhard believe that the future of music includes high-quality streaming music services that are probably subscription-based. BlueBeat.com is an embodiment of that vision.
A few weeks ago BlueBeat announced Version 2 of their website and client-side software. I've finally had the time to install it on one of my machines (1999 vintage Dell tower, Win2000 Pro, SP4, Media Player 9, Firefox 1.0.4, IE 6). The reinstall requires two boots, but apart from that, everything went smoothly.
Although I'm not one of the "golden ears", at 320 kbs the sound is, in my view, nothing short of stunning. Leonhard, Kusek, and MRT may well be right: BlueBeat-type services will be important to the Future of Music by striking a balance between very high quality audio and protecting the rights of artists and distributors.