In the world of computer operating systems, you've got commercial products from Microsoft, Apple, Be, Sun, and others in one corner, and open-source products like Linux in the other. The commercial products are released to the public as finished products (at least until the next "bug fix" is ready), usually for a fee, and their core software code is protected much like the recipe for Coca-Cola. If you don't work for the company producing the official version, then it's hands off.
The WebNoize three-day conference took place last week in Los Angeles, mixing record-company executives with Internet geeks, all trying to find profitable ways to distribute music online. Tom Roli, publisher of the Webnoize website, set the tone for the event, stating that "the industry is facing great change and uncertainty due to emerging technologies, shifting global markets, and media revolutions."
MP3-formatted audio files are considered to be the most popular streaming technology on the Internet, but the major record labels have so far shunned the format, which doesn't offer as much security and pay-per-download options as they'd like. Several announcements last week coincided with the WebNoize conference in Los Angeles and revealed what a few of the labels are thinking.
The Internet is having a startling effect on radio, as evidenced by a new report released by The Arbitron Company, entitled "Arbitron Internet Listening Study: Radio in the New Media World." Arbitron concludes "that Internet broadcasting is a fast-growing medium which presents both challenges and opportunities for radio broadcasters."
For the past three weeks (see previous article) we've been reporting on the troubled plight of Diamond Multimedia's new Rio portable MP3 audio player. Announced in grand fashion by Diamond several months back, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) quickly set its sights on the device, and fired what it hoped would be a fatal shot in the form of an injunction. The RIAA appeared to have succeeded until last week, when US Central District Court California Judge Audrey Collins reversed her initial ruling from 10 days earlier of an injunction, paving the way for the product's release this month. Both the RIAA and the Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies (AARC) are planning an appeal.
The rumors were flying all week, and this time they proved to be true: CDNow Inc. and N2K Inc. jointly announced the signing of a definitive merger agreement on October 23. Both companies are well-positioned in the online music retail business, but face ever-increasing threats from new online rivals such as Tower Records and Virgin, as well as the ominous presence of Amazon.com who recently jumped into the online music business.
We've all been hearing about digital television (DTV) for several months now, but a similar revolution is facing the radio industry around the world. As we reported last week, several companies and organizations have been piecing together systems to gradually replace the AM or FM stations you currently listen to (you do listen to the radio, don't you?) with digital equivalents over the next few years.
In a story last week, we covered the efforts of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) to prevent portable MP3 players from entering the market without copy-protection measures in place. On August 16, a federal court entered a temporary restraining order (TRO) to enjoin the distribution and sale of Diamond Multimedia's Rio PMP300 portable MP3 recording device.
Hilary Rosen, president and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), must feel like Sisyphus playing an endless game of "Whack-A-Mole." Her job recently has been to patrol the digital world for music copyright violators, especially those pesky pirate MP3 websites on the Internet. It seems that each time they find and eradicate a horde of copyright violators, hundreds more pop up faster than you can say "information wants to be free."
Running close on the heels of the 105th AES Convention in San Francisco, the DVD Forum held its conference two days later in the posh Hyatt Regency near the SF Airport. Attended by a variety of computer and consumer-electronics industry folk who manufacture and sell DVD discs and hardware, more than half of day one was devoted to the emerging DVD-Audio format. Although the presentations became highly technical at times, the sheer variety of possible formats and applications for DVD-Audio became apparent. Whether this is a blessing or a fatal flaw, all agreed that the consumer will ultimately determine DVD-Audio's fate in the next 2 to 5 years.