Special Report: The Future of Digital Entertainment/Music Wars; November 2000; Scientific American Magazine; by Ken C. Pohlmann; 4 Page(s)
The technology behind digital music is developing more rapidly than the music business can handle. As headlines constantly remind us, the recording industry is scrambling to cope with new formats and distribution modes that threaten its hegemony in the delivery of recorded music. The rising popularity of the Internet as a conduit for recordings has triggered irreversible changes in the way the public expects to experience music. Ostensibly "futuristic" concepts such as musicon-demand, access to record-label catalogues and the ability to surround oneself with a steady stream of new music for free are already here. Music-as-data is creating a new paradigm for the production and delivery of recordings that has befuddled music's own creators. And the challenges foreshadow those looming even larger on the horizon for d-movies, d-TV and, indeed, all forms of d-entertainment.
The irony is that musicians, their record labels and consumers were all perfectly satisfied with the now ubiquitous compact disc and CD players, both cheaply manufactured, reliable and convenient to use. The interchangeability of discs between computer and stereo systems made the CD family a nearly ideal audio carrier. But technology never rests. The battle over the network distribution of music is driven by how audio is produced and played and by how technology allows copyright protection to be breached.