At the Midem conference in Cannes, a new audio format has been proposed by the co-inventor of the MP3 and a Norwegian company called Bach. It's called MusicDNA, and bolts a huge pile of extra rich media content on to the music.
The idea is to make buying legal downloads more attractive. MusicDNA uses the same audio compression techniques as MPEG-3, but adds in extra content defined in an XML file. That content could include Twitter feeds, MySpace profiles, Wikipedia articles, sleeve art, and even links through to concert ticket sellers.
Bach CEO Stefan Kohlmeyer says: "We bundle all the audio data and business intelligence in one file. The data can be automatically updated whenever you are online.You could even sell it for double the price of an ordinary MP3. If content creators make an effort to put a lot of exclusive content in to it, you could definitely charge a higher premium".
The other attraction for labels terrified of illegal filesharing is that only legitimately purchased tracks will be able to auto-update the content. Pirated versions will remain static. However, we'd question whether the end-user would be that bothered - surely the track is what the pirate wants, not the promotional fluff on top?
The format will be going into beta in spring 2010, and will roll out commercially in the summer. Kohlmeyer says that 10 partners are onboard, including a number of labels and digital retailers. "We think downloads still have their place", said Kohlmeyer. "We don’t think streaming is taking over".
We'll see, come summer.