Rhodri Marsden: Is MusicDNA the new MP3 – and can it save the record industry?
Wednesday 27 January 2010
This week sees the annual music industry fair, Midem, wearily set up shop in Cannes, with ashen-faced delegates trudging from stall to stall, exchanging worried glances and mouthing the words "What are we going to do?" I'm exaggerating, of course, but only a bit. It's impossible to write anything about the music business without using the word "crisis" (there, got it out of the way nice and early) and the search continues for a lightning bolt of inspiration that will bring back the glory days, you know, before we worked out how to enjoy music on the cheap. Ideas do occasionally bubble to the surface, but they're either knocked back by the industry as preposterous or met with hoots of derision from music fans – like suggesting to India and Pakistan that the answer to the Kashmir question lies in the provision of free swimming lessons.
Nevertheless, a successor to the MP3 has just been suggested at Midem by Bach Technology, one of the file format's developers, as a possible revenue grabber. It goes by the name of MusicDNA, and the idea is that lyrics, tour dates, videos, status updates and blogs will be stored along with the song data, and will update regularly via the internet so you're always up to speed on that artist's activities. Pirated copies of the file won't update, the reasoning being that we'll want to fork out for our own slice of rich, ever-changing content.
A nice idea in theory, but we've shown ourselves to be stubbornly unwilling to move on from the MP3, which does its job very nicely. Audiophiles bang on about the Flac format and its superior quality, but distinguishing between Flac and a 320kbps mp3 file is virtually impossible. Apple's stab at a media-laden music format, the iTunes LP, was launched in November, but only 17 titles are currently available – although that's more impressive than CMX, the competing format from the four major labels, whose current catalogue is closer to zero. MusicDNA, to be launched this Easter, introduces "customisability" – apparently we're desperate to play around with the files – but the ultimate in customisable music formats, MXP4 and MT9, which actually allow us to remix the music, seem pretty frivolous and are shunned by musicians for obvious reasons.
Perhaps all we want to do is listen – something a service like Spotify lets us do with a minimum of messing about, no downloading, and (crucially) for free. I'd love Midem delegates – and indeed anyone in creative industries – to find a solution to their intractable problems, but right now the most obvious one involves retraining.
Email any technology gripes to email@example.com
Life & Style blogs
The Evil Within preview: a survival horror fan’s best worst nightmare
36-year-old skeleton of dead baby found inside Indian woman
Porn film production 'must stop in Los Angeles' after actor tests positive for HIV
Anal sex study reveals climate of 'coercion'
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
- 1 Unseen Charlie and the Chocolate Factory chapter deemed 'too subversive' released
- 2 Ebola virus: It's ripped through towns – now the deadliest ever outbreak of the virus is heading for Africa's teeming cities
- 3 Joan Rivers: 'Palestinians deserve to be dead'
- 4 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 5 Mexican woman becomes world’s 'oldest person' at 127
iJobs Gadgets & Tech
£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Infrastructure Engineer, VMware (VCP, NetApp,...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Computer Futures are currently...