Seagate Secures Music Collections for Elton John, Dave Matthews

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ReadyToPlay: Seagate BlackArmor Rocks!

In today's economy, most people are willing to rein in certain spending habits—fewer trips to the multiplex, for example, or the corner coffee house. But when it comes to their music, a surprising number of consumers are still opening their wallets for a great digital experience.

Jeff Tedesco can vouch for that. He's the president and CEO of ReadyToPlay, a Palo Alto, California-based company that converts (or "rips") CD collections into digital music libraries for customers who, he says, are "passionate" about their music. Those clients include music superstars like Elton John and Dave Matthews, along with former baseball slugger Barry Bonds and a host of high-tech leaders.

Tedesco is just as passionate about protecting his customers' tunes—which is why he uses Seagate storage products.

A former IBM sales executive who launched ReadyToPlay in 2003, Tedesco maintains a backup of his clients’ music on a Seagate BlackArmor NAS 440 storage server for one month after shipping their digitized collections to them. If the files are damaged in transit or during installation on a PC or home audio system, Tedesco can quickly create a new copy.

With the BlackArmor NAS 440, Tedesco can securely encrypt data for individual files or the entire contents of the hard drive. The BlackArmor NAS 440 also enables ReadyToPlay's staff to access and manage files over the Internet, from any Web browser–allowing them to work remotely or from the office.

Roomy and Fast

“Seagate storage plays a huge role in my business, because of the redundancy, security and peace of mind it offers me,” says Tedesco, 50. “The BlackArmor NAS 440 works flawlessly. Set-up couldn’t have been easier, and it has all the capacity and speed I need.”

In addition to the BlackArmor NAS 440, Tedesco will also store a client’s ripped music files on a compact Seagate FreeAgent Go portable hard drive—his preferred drive for USB direct-attached storage.

For customers looking for the highest-quality audio experience with the most flexibility, Tedesco will recommend using a network-attached storage (NAS) drive. He rips CD collections in a “ Lossless ” audio-compression format, as well as the MP3 format. Tedesco places both versions onto a NAS drive, which makes the music available across a home network to PCs and Macs, as well as digital media receivers like Sonos , Squeezebox and Apple TV.

“A NAS drive like a BlackArmor 440 is a great solution for Lossless music files,” Tedesco explains. “A NAS drive gives you the ability to have integrated backup with RAID capability. It gives you easy access to any digital device, which means any Mac or PC users in the house can enjoy that music any way they like, at any time they want.”

Although his clients include the rich and famous, Tedesco will gladly rips music for average consumers, charging $1.30 per CD. A “typical” job for ReadyToPlay ranges from 400-to-800 CDs; the company’s biggest project was a 7,000-CD collection for New York’s Juilliard School of dance, drama and music.

Despite the economic downturn, business has remained fairly steady for ReadyToPlay, which gets much of its work from home-entertainment installers. “Our customers share a love of music,” Tedesco says. “They might be very wealthy businesspeople or average folks who have accumulated a lot of music over the years on CDs. They’re all looking for an easier way to manage and enjoy their music. That’s where we come in.”

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Confidentiality is a must for all customers, so don’t bother asking Tedesco what any of his high-profile clients are listening to. But generally speaking, he will disclose that the most popular artist–“by far”–is ABBA, followed by Billy Joel. One high-tech executive had some 400 “ death-metal ” albums, while another client had 145 Eric Clapton CDs–many of them bootlegs from live performances.

Skeptics might question why anyone would pay for something they can do for free, using iTunes or other downloadable software applications. Aside from the convenience of having someone else rip your CD collection, Tedesco’s company offers a unique way of organizing–he calls it “grooming”–all that music in ways that any audiophile can appreciate.

Tedesco uses custom software he developed that grooms a collection’s “ metadata ,” which is all the organizing information related to a set of recordings: artists, genres, track titles and numbers, album-cover art and more. ReadyToPlay’s software checks album data across four different databases, such as All Music Guide , to ensure that its metadata is accurate and consistent, no matter if the artist is R&B superstar Beyonce or a classical-music composer like Igor Stravinsky.

“Our clients are very particular about their music,” says Randy Stearns, president of Engineered Environments, an Alameda, California-based installer of home-entertainment systems that’s worked with ReadyToPlay on several projects. “Jeff provides a level of service we don’t see from other CD-ripping companies, which is very detailed and complete metadata. His attention to detail and the quality of his work is second to none.” Environments

Quality is equally important to ReadyToPlay when it comes to digital storage.

“Quality is a huge differentiator for us,” says Tedesco, “which is why Seagate is our preferred storage brand. When we load a client’s files onto a BlackArmor or FreeAgent drive, we know their music is going be safe and secure, and we know we can access it in the event of a disaster.”

- By Steve Pipe

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