'Global services are focused on hi-res right now': MQA boss Mike Jbara on streaming's premium revolution

'Global services are focused on hi-res right now': MQA boss Mike Jbara on streaming's premium revolution

Mike Jbara, CEO of audio technology company MQA, has told Music Week that hi-res audio will be given a big boost by the move to streaming.

Many associate digital music with poorer sound quality than CD but, speaking at last week’s Music Week Tech Summit Together With O2, Jbara said the format offered many opportunities for higher quality services.

“It’s particularly good for our company because it allows our differentiation to become so clear,” Jbara said. “One of the things that MQA does uniquely is it’s highly efficient in dealing with huge amounts of musical information. Big files become small files and then become big again at playback. Our ability to deliver the original studio quality in a stream still flips people out. It blows their mind.

I tend to resist the ‘Oh good, streaming has arrived, we can all pat ourselves on the back and say we succeeded’ [argument], because it has to be a culture of continuous improvement,” he added. “Not just moving from physical to digital and saying ‘Oh good, we’re set for 20 years’.”

MQA has a global agreement with Deezer and with Tidal in the US and UK, as well as a number of niche services worldwide. It also has deals in place with the likes of Universal Music, Sony Music, Warner Music and Merlin, but is not yet available on the biggest streaming services – something Jbara predicts will change eventually.

Our ability to deliver the original studio quality in a stream still flips people out

Mike Jbara

“Our job is getting the bigger services, the labels and the hardware device playback world to understand that higher quality isn’t just for early adopters and audiophiles,” he said. “It’s something that, once it’s exposed to mainstream music fans and digital natives, all of them will realise that they can’t live without it. It’s about introducing it to the bigger services and getting the mainstream market to understand.”

Jbara admitted that mass-market consumers would take time to realise the benefits of hi-res, but said the concept was gaining traction in the industry.

“The good thing is, all of the big global services are really focused on this topic right now,” he said. “Our relationships with them are in a very good place, they’re all now working through what it will mean with the labels and how they work through the economics of a premium-quality experience.”

Jbara starred at the Tech Summit on the Strategies For 2020 panel. For more on the Summit, see the new print edition of Music Week or click here and here.

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