MusicDNA, yet another digital music format

With extra bells and privacy invasion

THERE’S NO NEED to send us the answer to this question, but how many different file formats is your digital music library made up of? Unless you own an iPod or an older Sony player, the answer is most likely one, MP3. Now the creators behind the MP3 file format is getting ready to launch a fourth iteration that goes under the name of MusicDNA.

With the failures of mp3PRO and mp3HD behind them, the Fraunhofer Institute of Digital MediaTechnologies is ready to try its luck again. The new format was launched at MIDEM, which is a trade show for the music industry held in Cannes, France. MusicDNA builds on the MP3 format, yet adds a lot of additional functionality. The question is, does anyone care?

MusicDNA adds “interactivity” to your music and is built up of several parts. MusicDNA Live is a metadata feed service which allows online music retailers to get a better idea of what type of music each specific customer likes. If you’re paranoid this can be seen as an invasion of your privacy. The MusicDNA Player is the key component, as it allows the customer to play back his or her MusicDNA files. It also allows for music synchronization between devices and adds “interactivity” to digital music.

The player can also “upgrade” MP3 files so they gain support for MusicDNA. There’s already talk about MusicDNA apps and even potentially paid-for apps. Plug-ins for iTunes and Windows Media Player are already in the works and the company is also targeting the iPhone as well as Android and Windows Mobile powered devices with special versions of the player.

MusicDNA’s key feature is that the file format incorporates metadata support that enables most, if not all of the new features. Thanks to the addition of metadata support, MusicDNA can not only “spy” on the music you’re listening to, but it also allows you to download lyrics, cover art, pictures, concert videos, interviews, news and pretty much anything else useless that can spring to mind. There’s even support for Twitter feeds and of course advertising via merchandising.

The MusicDNA search function is meant to make it easier for the listener to find similar music based on a wide range of pre-determined factors, which in turn are based upon some clever code that analyzes the music. This is being pushed as a way for online music retailers to be able to flog more music, not least from less popular artists and categories that the music marketers think the listener might find appealing.

We can’t see this new audio file format gaining any popularity, because it’ll require you to be connected to the Internet to be able to take advantage of the “features” on offer. The only really good news is the fact that MusicDNA files will play on any device that supports MP3 files, although without support for the additional extras. MusicDNA is set to be available in beta form some time this spring.S|A

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