MQA and Universal Music Group announce multi-year deal

Together forever?

The MQA juggernaut continues to gather momentum with today’s announcement that the Universal Music Group has inked a multi-year deal with MQA to encode Universal’s massive catalog of master recordings. Those naysayers, and companies that seem bent on defying any logic behind MQA’s end-to-end software/hardware playback-authentication chain are probably shaking their heads at this latest news.

Word on the street is that Universal is preparing tens of thousands of titles for encoding, and streaming, with the ultimate goal of hundreds of thousands of titles being made available. The Universal catalog is rather extensive, and includes such heady artists as Abba, The Beatles, Deadmau5, The Eagles, Johnny Cash, The Tragically Hip, U2, and The Who to name but a few.

This is great news for those who appreciate what they’re hearing from MQA mastering, especially with partial software decoding, or full hardware decoding of the codec. In my mind it also means customers of streaming services like Tidal will ultimately be the real winners from today’s news with more options than ever for choosing what type of quality they want for music-streaming playback.

–Rafe Arnott

Below is the press release received today in my inbox:


Hi-Res Audio Movement Gains Significant Momentum

LONDON AND SANTA MONICA, FEBRUARY 16, 2017 – Music technology company MQA and Universal Music Group (UMG), the world-leader in music-based entertainment, announced today that the companies have entered into a multi-year agreement that will encode UMG’s extensive catalogue of master recordings in MQA’s industry-leading technology, promising to make some of the world’s most celebrated recordings available for the first time in Hi-Res Audio streaming.

Today’s announcement comes shortly after the launch of the cross-industry marketing campaign “Stream the Studio”, launched at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and spearheaded by The DEG: the Digital Entertainment Group, to raise awareness of the advantages of Hi-Res Audio streaming.

Mike Jbara, CEO of MQA, commented, “We’re very pleased to be working with Universal Music to achieve our goal of moving studio-quality sound into the mainstream.  Universal’s timeless catalogue and impressive artist roster will fuel music streaming services worldwide and enable the premium listening experience for all music fans.”

Michael Nash, Executive Vice President of Digital Strategy at UMG, said, “The promise of Hi-Res Audio streaming is becoming a reality, with one service already in the market and several more committed to launching this year. With MQA, we are working with a partner whose technology is among the best solutions for streaming Hi-Res Audio, and one that doesn’t ask music fans to compromise on sound quality for convenience. We’re looking forward to working with Mike and his team at MQA to make our industry-leading roster of artists and recordings available to music fans in the highest quality possible.”

MQA – the award-winning technology which delivers master quality audio in a file small enough to stream – debuted on global music and entertainment platform, TIDAL, at the beginning of this year, and is also available internationally on several music download services.”