The Guardian, in their article, “MusicDNA – new digital file that is son of MP3 unveiled,” warns us of yet another new audio file format, and how little the music industry understands its customers.
Bach Technology, the company that brought us the MP3, is behind MusicDNA, which seems to indicate lightening doesn’t strike twice. And yes, MusicDNA is what they’re calling the file format. EWeek Europe describes the format this way:
Using the new technology, music labels and bands will be able to send updates to the music files — with tour dates, interviews or updates to social networking pages — while illegally downloaded files remain static.
Bach Technology is billing this as the most significant development in digital music since they invented the MP3 format. But the thing is, it makes no changes whatsoever to the music itself. Neither of the linked articles reports Bach Technology saying a word about the music.
I take issue with Stefan Kohlmeyer, the chief executive of Bach Technology, describing comparing MP3 with MusicDNA as “Out of a rusted old VW Beetle we are making a Ferrari.” I take issue because, to use Kohlmeyer’s analogy, they’re not changing the performance or the comfort of the car at all. They’re taking a perfectly good car and pimping it out with an absurd spoiler, an air-dam, big rims, and a metallic fleck paint treatment. It drives just the same, except it’s lugging around more weight in the form of ridiculous eye-candy that does nothing to serve the point of the vehicle.
So there are lyrics and interviews. What’s that going to do to the file size of the songs? You certainly will not be able to fit as many on your iPod. And that’s assuming your iPod will play them at all. Also of interest is the part about the music label being able to send updates to the files. I presume I’m going to have to install additional software to receive this data? Not on my system, thanks. All of this sounds like a hacker’s dream.
I could at least imagine it having a point if the add-ons had any lasting value. I appreciate liner notes, but when it comes right down to it, there isn’t a lot of reason to re-read them. And the same goes with interviews. I might watch them once, and probably not even that. It’s like the bonus material on DVDs. The movie’s got to be pretty damned spectacular for me to even think about spending time with the bonus material. So what sort of new updates will the music label add to the files later? The way I see it, the label has already received payment and will feel little incentive to add material of real value. How long will it be before updates include ads for other artists? It’s a whole new marketing vector, and you’ll pay for the privilege of being targeted.
When I buy music, I want music. Music in a format that will give me the best possible quality. I won’t pay a penny extra for lyrics and interviews.
I predict this format will fail, fast and hard … and that’s assuming it’ll play, without conversion, on existing iPods. If it won’t, Bach Technology won’t get it out the door.
While I don’t see a rosy future for this format, I do appreciate that Bach Technology is attempting to address the issue of illegal downloading with a carrot rather than a stick. I don’t believe this carrot is incentive enough, however.