MP3, M4A, WMA, OGG, FLAC…does the world really need another audio file format? Some of the folks who pioneered the MP3 revolution in digitial music seem to think so, unveiling MusicDNA, a new file type that offers not only music, but up to 32 GB of ancillary data to go along with it, like artwork, lyrics, text, and even video—plus that extra content is searchable and can be constantly updated via the Internet so fans can keep up with blog posts and all the latest stuff.
MediaDNA is the latest creation from Norwegian developer Dagfinn Bach, who helped make one of the first MP3 players back in the early 1990s, and has investment backing from German researcher Karlheinz Brandenburg, who is generally credited with coming up with the MP3 file format.
Announced at this week’s Midem music conference, MusicDNA is built on the open MPEG-7 format. The technology will include a player software, plug-ins for jukebox applications, search-savvy Web services, many of which will leverage the vastly expanded meta-data capabilities in the MusicDNA file format. The idea is to create new revenue opportunities for artists and music publishers, enabling not only a vastly improved music-consumer experience, but also enhanced music discovery services: more metadata means finer-grained analysis of what particular listeners like, don’t like, and might be interested in hearing and buying. Plus, anytime a music user goes online, their content can update itself with new extra and the latest information.
MusicDNA plans to launch a beta in the next few months, with a full rollout before the third quarter of 2010. British record label Beggars Group and U.S. record label Tommy Boy have signed up to use the format. No word yet on what MusicDNA tracks will cost or what devices and software will support them, but one thing seems certain: they’ll probably be pricier than MP3s.