January 22, 2010

Company Hopes To Release Successor To The MP3

In what could be a successor to the ubiquitous MP3 file, a leading technology company is set to launch a new digital music file format that can embed additional content for fans - including lyrics, news updates and images, Reuters reported.

Piracy in the last decade has severely damaged the music industry and it is now looking to develop new offerings to entice consumers to buy their music from legitimate sites, instead of downloading it from illegal sites.

But now members of the music industry and the original MP3 digital music file inventor say the new proposal, which is called MusicDNA, would allow fans to download an MP3 file on to their computer, which would carry with it additional content.

The embedding would allow music labels, bands or retailers to send updates to the music file every time they have something new to announce such as the dates of future tours, new interviews or updates to social network pages.

Users would receive as little or as much of the information as they want, every time they are online.

However, anyone who downloads the music file illegally would receive only a static file that would not receive any updates.

The group behind the MusicDNA file, BACH Technology, says it is looking to partner with retailers, music labels, rights holders and technology companies and is happy to provide its technology for others who could use it under their own brand.

Chief Executive Stefan Kohlmeyer told Reuters they are getting very good feedback, and the fact that they are looking to include everyone in this, and not competing against them, helps.

Any MP3 player, including Apple's iPod, can play the file. The music player, or online music library, can also be adapted to suit the user and could, for example, be integrated into existing social networks.

The service would hark back to the time when music fans enjoyed looking at the lyrics and artwork on an album almost as much as they enjoyed listening to the music itself, Kohlmeyer said.

"We are bringing back the entire emotional experience of music. We think it got lost in the transition to the digital era. We think a beautiful piece of audio has been reduced to a number code. We want to enrich it again," he said.

BACH is also hoping that software developers will create new applications and content for the MusicDNA player.

The company said a beta version of the file will be available in the spring and a full commercial rollout is expected by the summer. BACH also hopes to introduce a mobile version of the music player.

A host of partners across the industry have already signed up and BACH is in talks with the major record labels.

"The new offering is exciting and Universal could quite possibly work with the company, but we still need further commercial conversations," said Rob Wells, the senior vice president of digital at Universal Music Group International.

He told Reuters he believes the music industry has got a great opportunity to open up new revenue streams.

"They haven't contemplated in the past all the aspects of rich media," he said.

BACH is based in Norway, Germany and China and has Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology as a partner.


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