Computer net offers music via the phone: A service launched today could challenge the record industry. Susan Watts reports

THE CHANCE to select tracks from a store of thousands of compact discs using a computer and a telephone line is on offer from a small London-based company, in a move that challenges the structure of the music establishment.

The company, called Cerberus, has set up in the capital's Denmark Street, better known as Tin Pan Alley - home of the music publishing industry during the 1960s and centre of much that is innovative in music since.

Launching the service in London today, at a conference organised by independent record companies, Ricky Adar, managing director of Cerberus, said: 'We have not fixed our pricing structure yet, but it will definitely be considerably cheaper than buying a CD from a shop - as low as we can possibly get.'

Mr Adar expects opposition from the music business, to whom the venture represents a threat. Record and CD manufacturers, publishers and retail outlets could suffer if the idea succeeds.

A Virgin Records spokesman said yesterday: 'If this kind of system is completely without regulation, the whole economic structure could be undermined . . . I don't think that's going to happen, but there is a real dichotomy here. Freedom of dissemination of information is very important to young artists, but this kind of structure makes it difficult to ensure artists can make a living out of their work. Virgin is keeping an open mind at the moment.'

Mr Adar admits he is keen to find a way round what he considers a monolithic music business. He suggests artists might like to put their own price tag on songs - an idea that is bound to upset record companies. Accompanying video and graphics material, such as biographies of artists, would be displayed on the computer screen.

From a keyboard, subscribers would call the service, order the menu of music on offer and pick their track. Each time they access a single, they would run up a monthly bill with Cerberus, which would pass on royalties to the artists.

For people without computers, the company is working on a deal with cable television companies that would allow subscribers to call up a CD single, and watch accompanying video and graphics material on their television screen. Initially, Cerberus is offering 1,000 songs. The sound quality should be as good as that from any CD player. The digital service is a bit like someone playing a CD on a player a long way away then connecting it directly to your hi-fi or headphones.

There are two or three similar services on offer from US groups, using the Internet global computer network.

The Virgin Records spokesman indicated that companies such as his might possibly be interested in striking deals with organisations such as Cerberus. 'The Internet and digital transmission is here, and is something that needs to be addressed,' he said. 'There is a lot of interest in this.'

Mr Adar said the software Cerberus has developed sets it apart. Geffen Records recently offered what it claimed was the first single release over the digital superhighways, an Aerosmith track sent out over Compuserve. However, the digital data that makes up this track takes 90 minutes to download on to a computer. The Cerberus software compresses the audio data by up to 10 times, so a five-minute song takes 12 minutes to download.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Sport
Manchester City's Etihad Stadium
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own