Monday, January 25, 2010

Format madness: MusicDNA at MIDEM 2010

After a few years in which most of the rubbish new ideas for music formats have been physical, the people who bought you the MP3 are trying to fly the flag for a new format, MusicDNA.

As follow-ups go, Dagfinn Bach has come up with something a bit more Second Coming than Space Oddity:

Speaking at the Midem music conference, Mr Bach said: "We can deliver a file that is extremely searchable and can carry up to 32GB of extra information in the file itself.

"And it will be dynamically updatable so that every time the user is connected, his file will be updated."

But why does all that extra information have to be wedged into the file? If you've got a 32GB iPod, you're going to be a bit screwed if all you can fit on is a single tune. Couldn't you just put a bit of extra data into an ordinary mp3 which could suck down the extra data off the internet, instead of saving it all in the file? Isn't carting all that extra gubbins around heading away from the cloud, instead of towards it?

Given that increasing numbers of people have always-on connections to the end, what possible value could there be in forcing clunky, larger files onto people to carry extra data that could just as easily be looked up off the web anyway?
[T]he MusicDNA files are likely to be more expensive than current music downloads.

Oh. That'd be it, then. Wrap a load of old tut into the music, and whack up the price.

Not that it's about that, you understand:
Mr Brandenburg, director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology in Germany, said: "I think it brings together a number of ideas that have been around for a long time.

"I remember 10 years ago, a lot of people were saying that we need to enrich the user experience, that legal access to music has to give the customers more than just music, and this is certainly one very nice way to do it."

Actually, what people have been saying for 10 years is that legal music must be cheap and convenient. I don't think anyone has ever said "I wish every day the lyrics insert would change every morning", have they?

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