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Music Will Be Formless

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Music in the future will be formless, you will pay and receive a digital file and put it into whatever format you choose. The user chooses the form

Do you agree with that? I do, The way its going now, other than the fact the quality is average not the full 16-bit 44.1KHz WAV (or simmilar) quality we are almost there now. When Internet speeds & download limits increase, and the infrastructure is there, it will probably happen after a while.

Look at the last radiohead album, released digitally and with a 'you pay what you think its worth' Manufacture (not production) costs would be minimal.

What do you think?

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I don't think most people are there yet. From most music sites you don't pay for a digital file - you pay for a licence to use it. That is not allowing the user to choose the format on which to listen to their music, but being dictated to as to what formats they are allowed to use, and what their licence will allow them to do.

Still, there are exceptions. Magnatune for example lets you choose what to pay, and to download the full-quality FLAC files. Also, 50% of whatever you pay goes straight to the artist/band. Oh, and there's no DRM. They were also there way before Radiohead did their 'pay what you want' album.

Until more sites are like Magnatune, I don't think we can really say that we've reached a time where you can pay for the music, and it is yours to do what you want with.

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In principle, it sounds like a great idea. The only problem I'd have with it is, as rvalkass mentioned, the fact that it's more about paying for a license than paying for a file. For instance, if you head out and buy a CD today, you're really buying the right to listen to the music on it. That's why borrowing/lending/sharing of music is generally considered "illegal", and special licenses have to be bought in order to play the music publicly (at a nightclub, in a bar, on the radio etc.)


Perhaps a smarter move would be the ability to purchase licenses that have no music that come with them. While I'm certainly against the idea of the big-brother society, perhaps there could be a central "database" of music (and other licensed files, such as films, eBooks and so on...) where it's possible to download copies of the music (in whatever format you wish, or perhaps depending on the level of the license you bought) that link to your personal license?


Naturally this will be wide open for "pirate" copies of licenses and so on to be distributed etc., but I think the main issue with pirated media at the moment is the fact that it's nigh on impossible to track. Once a file's been downloaded, there's no further trace. This file can then be copied, uploaded elsewhere, downloaded by someone else, etc. etc. While the licensing idea is by no means perfect, I think it's important to remember that there will always be a small portion of the people who listen to music that insist on getting it for free.


Of course, that's all illegal and such, but in my mind it could perhaps be expanded on to make it not worth the while of the spreaders of licensed material. Let's say that you want to listen to such-and-such an album. You download the album (for free, and legally from the central "database" I was talking about). The format of said file would be such that it requests a license every day if it's ran, or perhaps only allows a certain number of plays before stopping? If the file was redownloaded it would start the counter from scratch, so while you can listen to the music free of charge indefinitely, it becomes a major hassle to do so if you want a fair amount of it.


Buying a license (maybe a personal one, so it links to you and requires registration etc.) allows you to "unlock" the file if your license is present on the system that's accessing the file. Doing so wouldn't alter the file format, merely permanently link it to your license. Naturally having more than one license on a system is possible (more than one user on a home PC, for instance)...either way, I think the way to combat pirated media is, ironically, to make the media easier to access for free, but more annoying to keep.


And now I've gone off on a tangent from the original topic, so I'd better bring it back on track...


Music has to have a format, else the players wouldn't know how to play the file. While I'm more than comfortable with the idea that you could download a file in different formats, the licenses associated with some of them make that impossible. Each file format is likely linked or licensed to a certain company etc., meaning that putting media in to those formats would probably be costly. What I think we really need is more open-source formats that are easily accessible. At the moment not many people know much about music format (.mp3, .wma, .wav, .ogg, the list is nigh on endless) and stick to what they know works. If you (like me) have been using .mp3 files most of your life then you're likely to want to have any new music you get in .mp3 format. That's just the way it works. Introducing a new, more universal and standardised format that's playable by everyone (in different levels of quality, sure, but essentially the same format...) would hopefully make people more comfortable with open-source content, which I'm strongly in favour of.


Whew...this ramble went on much longer than I first thought!

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