Is Hi-Def Streaming a Thing? Rhapsody Packs MQA Into Its ‘Powered by Napster’ Streaming Service

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Rhapsody International Inc. has reached a new deal with MQA to deliver high-definition audio to the Powered by Napster streaming platform.

The Powered by Napster b2b platform now offers listeners the option to choose between high-resolution and studio-quality audio.  MQA music tracks will be available across multiple platforms including mobile, automotive, and WiFi-based home/office.

The new partnership between Napster and MQA means that the original, highest resolution versions of tracks can now be streamed to listeners.  At last count, the Napster premium subscription platform operates in 34 countries, with growth targeting the Asia region.

But does the streaming public really care about HD-level audio fidelity, at least in critical quantities?  On that note, Chief Commercial Officer of Napster Angel Gambino insists that high-resolution audio is the future.  In the press release, she calls high-resolution audio a “powerful tool to have in our box.”

The RIAA backs up that assessment by revealing how many high-resolution audio tracks are available in the US.

There are currently more than 33,500 albums and 400,000 tracks of studio-quality formats available for music listeners, according to the major label trade group.  That’s a 29% increase year-over-year, which signals that larger labels are interested in hi-def recording.

At this stage, major labels are releasing 1,000 studio-quality albums per month, according to the RIAA’s report.  Studio quality traverses both hi-res audio (48khz/20-bit or higher) and studio production format (44.1 kHz/24-bit audio).

Drilling down into the data behind the report, most of the hi-res albums available are gold and platinum certified releases.

77% of gold and platinum records had a hi-res release, per the trade group’s states.  The RIAA, Digital Entertainment Group (DEG), Pandora, Rhapsody/Napster, and HD Tracks all announced support for hi-res audio during the Music Biz 2019 conference in Nashville this week.