Sunday, August 05, 2007

Will USB Sticks Eventually Replace Music CDs? By Christine Albrecht

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I am oblivious to the regulations surrounding the acquisition of online MP3s. After the Napster trial, and the introduction of itunes, I became aware that major music labels, and their artists, were pulling no stops when it came to ensuring their online music was being purchased, thus hoping to end the peer file sharing and general MP3 downloading.

It wasn’t until I was watching MMM (Canada’s equivalent of Muchmusic and the U.S.’s Mtv for older viewers) when I caught a dated interview with Steven Page and Ed Robertson of The Barenaked ladies discussing their view of the arts community and its loathing of sharing/downloading music without artist compensation.

The musicians were explaining why they were releasing their latest musical venture in the usb stick format (also known as abluetooth.) This computer accessory holds a whack of information in its tiny frame. In this format, music can be shared from computer to computer depending upon where the owner wishes to listen to it. Quite an ingenious idea, and unlike computer files, this device is portable and can be uploaded, burned onto a cd, shared with a friend or ...?

To the chagrin of more militant artists, BNL points out the self defeating, waste of dollars spent tracking audiophiles ‘illegally’ downloading music to listen and share. With itunes and ipods being the trend du jour, it appears traditional cds are going by the way of the Tyrannosaurus Rex, with exception to the initial rip of the original cd.

MP3 players are increasingly favoured over CDs, however, they too have their flaws, most notably their inability to allow wireless downloads/transfers. Until ipods etc. can upgrade this problem, it appears USB memory sticks (bluetooths) are the way to go.

More and more artists (Barenaked Ladies in particular) have already released their musical ventures on USB memory sticks. This is a practical format as usb sticks are able to store more music, videos, artwork, etc. than any compact disc.

I especially enjoyed the Barenaked Ladies’ logic, (paraphrased) ... Our fans can purchase the usb stick and do what they wish with it. If that means downloading the contents onto their computer, burning a cd, or lending it out to friends, that’s their choice as they bought, and subsequently own, the music...

Will the usb stick offerings outsource cds, et el? Most certainly because of the added value to the consumer’s dollar by way of multiple uses of the stick. The bluetooth is comparable to a DVD movie because it offers both extra content and artist features. Of course, there will also be additional features that are not easily copied or pirated, hence the bluetooth must first be purchased to be fully accessed. This is the area that BNL, and others, are hoping will lure the fans/consumers to actually purchase the blue tooth music format.

This technology also shows how far behind record companies are as they struggle to keep current with fans who are already capable of utilizing the usb stick, while sabotaging attempts to disallow general file sharing. Despite record companies’ loathing of (blaming the band friendly site for lower CD sales due to illegal downloads) they are also dependent upon the site for market sampling and consumer profiling. Interestingly, is the platform preferred by upcoming bands when marketing themselves when no agent/label is stepping up to the plate. Once a band has received impressive hits, a label suddenly appears with contract in hand.

It’s time that more artists followed The Barenaked Ladies' innovative lead and remember the true passion behind making music - to share with the masses.

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