MP3 turns into MusicDNA... but will it be the new 8-track?

25 January 2010

People in the music industry are obsessed about developing new formats. From shellac and vinyl we went to 8-track... then to cassette and CD... with DAT tapes and MiniDiscs somewhere in the mix.

Then came the thing that ballsed everything up for The Recording Industry Of The Entire World - the Mp3. These formless, intangible things started getting tossed down phonelines to anyone who wanted to hear... and someone, somewhere probably realised that everything was about to go tits up.

However, that hasn't stopped tinkerers tinkering as there's a new format to get your ear-trumpet round... and this new music file format has been unveiled by some of the key figures behind the development of the MP3.

It's called MusicDNA and instead of being a simple, static piece of data, it will be able to include things like lyrics, videos, artwork and blog posts and it will have the ability to be continually updated... that includes music updates.

It has been created by one of the chaps who worked on the first MP3 player and he's a Norwegian developer called Dagfinn Bach.

British record company Beggars Group (formerly Beggars Banquet) and Tommy Boy (De La Soul, Afrika Bambaataa) has signed up to use MusicDNA. Of course, the majors are hanging fire before they sign up... presumably waiting to see how profitable and viable this new format is.

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."

MusicDNA is launching a beta version this spring and should be firing on all cylinders come summertime.

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."

This could certainly be a good format to play around with... but ultimately, could fail if the files end up being too big and thereby, clog up the space in smaller MP3 players. It could also be seen as a way of getting people to buy legally (which of course, holds its own problems) as illegally shared material may miss a vital strand of code and thereby, not allow you to get constant updates.

What do you think, dearest reader?



  • Graham
    Hmmm...nice idea. But an MP3 that could potentially be 32GB in size? Ouch! If we want lyrics, videos, artwork, blogs or other info that's what website like or the artist's own website is for.
  • Lumoruk
    Isn't this what the programs we use on our computers to play the MP3s are already doing?
  • ElBuc
    Yaaaaawwwwwn.... nothing new. I was just thinking about the old Blu Ray vs HDDVD thing. Neither really won did they? Both lost, but to different degrees.
  • MayContainNuts
    Here's a question which seems to have been missed out of the original article - what does it sound like?? If it's no improvement on the sound quality of MP3, what's the point? As others said, most music players already provide album art, lyrics, band information, etc.
  • Mark P.
    So the new MP3 MP3 with extra meta data in it? With the potential to phone home? Thanks, but no thanks.
  • Theo C.
    I'm with MayContainNuts here. The reason I don't buy digital music is that most of it is at an appalling 128kbps which sounds awful on anything more serious than an iPOD with basic headphones. It doesn't support high end audio kit at all. So all these dynamically updated features will be useless to me unless people start selling music at 192kbps or more. Until then, I'll carry on finding other ways to get digital music.
  • Mike
    @The Cupier You have been able to download music from itunes, amazon and at over 192kbps for at least a year.
  • Codify
    The Cupier - you are revealing your typical audiopgile ignorance on many levels there. 1. iTunes has been 256kbps AAC for years 2. Quoting bitrates alone is completely meaningless - 128kbps AAC is diferent to 128kbps MP3, as the codecs are completely different - AAC is more efficient, allowing more audio data to be packed in to the same file size 3. Even within the MP3 codec, encoders have improved significantly over the last ten years. On hydrogenaudio (the bible forums for audiophiles) they ran a double-blind experiment - most members couldn't tell the difference between a 128kbps LAME-encoded MP3 and the original CD audio, even on their high-end equipment. I bet you are the type of person who spends £300 on HDMI cable, because you think it gives you better picture quality
  • LD
    FLAC here
  • brian b.
    fuckem! knobheads mp3 foreva
  • LS
    What updates could be worth larger files? Cover art? Doesn't need updated - I don't want it changing just because the album has had an update, leave the version I have in place alone. Lyrics? Nope, these won't change over time. I certainly don't want my audio changing from the studio version to a live version on a whim of the record label... So, errm, nope, can't see any use for updates to audio files.
  • Olly
    Sometihng often overlooked about MP3 files is you can create them at home. This means you can rip existing CDs, but it also means you can add music that hasn't been professionally recorded and let it sit alongisde your favourite N-Dubz or Susan Boyle song. Until CD-Rs came along there was a great division between signed and unsigned artists. Either MusicDNA is going to allow people to continue to create their own tracks, in which case it'll fail to solve any piracy issues, or it is going to attempt to 'lock' people into only getting music from signed artists. It'll fail... Olly
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