Breaking new ground this month, nugs.net becomes the first mobile streaming music app to provide Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) playback on iOS devices. In the world of streaming music, that’s like nugs.net providing listeners a five-star dining experience when other streaming music services deliver fast food served cold. But what else would you expect from the “leading official source of live music” for bands like Metallica, Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam and the Red Hot Chili Peppers?

So, why has nugs.net adopted MQA — and why should serious hardcore music lovers take notice? MQA is a music technology originating in England, produced by MQA, Ltd. MQA captures 100% or 10x the fidelity of live and studio recordings compared to MP3 files. It’s the same level of sound quality that artists and mixers get when they are in the studio. MQA’s extra trick is converting the recording into a file size small enough to stream and automatically playing at the highest level of quality that the listener’s device supports.


Caption – Take me There: The Artist Story featuring MQA with Smoke Season

Unlike other streaming music stores and services, nugs.net focuses on delivering high-quality professional recordings of live concert performances. This goes back to the era of the Grateful Dead, long before YouTube, Spotify or Amazon. Fans of the Grateful Dead or Deadheads, followed the band with an almost religious-like devotion – recording, collecting, trading and sharing every performance they could, first on audio cassettes and later with digital files. By 1980’s standards, these bootleg recordings were the next best thing to actually being there. And unlike many other bands, the Grateful Dead encouraged it.

Today’s nugs.net represents a quantum leap forward stemming from Brad Serling’s vast private collection of concert recordings of the Grateful Dead, Phish and other great bands. Today, nugs.net covers subscription streaming services, downloads, CD’s on demand, pay-per-view webcasts, delivered to millions of fans, daily.

The nugs.net app is free to download and offers a free thirty-day trial but an active subscription is required for the user to listen to any performance. Running at $12.99 per month or $129.99 for a yearly subscription positions nugs.net as a premium service, not just a premium product. The iOS version supports downloads in MP3, ALAC and now, MQA formats. Available only through its web portal, users can also purchase individual shows and webcasts without needing a subscription.

Caption – nugs.net – Live Music Lives Here

The focus on live concert performances places nugs.net in a market of its own without having to directly compete with the likes of Spotify, Amazon or even YouTube. The vast majority of fan-shared smartphone concert recordings on YouTube barely deserve comparison with 1980 cassette recordings.

While the app is one component of nugs.net’s overall business, it is also an important revenue stream for bands, too. It’s like the icing on the cake for what bands do anyway – concert performances. Some bands are bringing in seven-figure revenues from their live recordings. Until nugs.net, that was a completely untapped source unless the band hired their own professional recording agency.

We, here at Reinvently, are very proud of how four teams came together to make this release happen in time to be shown at CES 2018. Going into our fourth year of providing mobile app development services for nugs.net, the MQA integration started only in August of 2017. Our role included managing and coordinating the efforts of four technical teams, integration of Amarra’s Sonic Studio alongside nugs.net’s own AV player, managing acceptance and the delivery process.  Companies with similar multi-party technical relationships can take confidence that we can take on very complex projects with several teams to deliver a final version to meet a tough deadline.

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At the same time, we are excited to see MQA’s growth and adoption throughout the music industry. Presently, over 100 MQA-enabled products and services are available. They include AudioQuest along with many other digital audio converters, network streamers like Bluesound, plus an array of pre-amplifiers, CD players, speakers and soundbars. Both Warner Music Group, Sony Music and Universal Music Group have also announced publicly and moved to support MQA.

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Mark Dabbs

Expert contributor

Mark Dabbs is an expert contributor and consultant for Reinvently. His passion is helping businesses make better use of mobile technology.