back to article New music file aims to sink piracy using blogs and Twitter

A new music file format has become the latest to try to supersede the basic MP3, promising licensed files will have "tangible benefits" over pirated tracks for the first time. MusicDNA has been developed by Dagfinn Bach, part of the team that developed the current de facto standard at the Fraunhofer Institute 20 years ago. …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    DRM in all but words?


    n what is claimed as MusicDNA's main advantage over illegally downloaded mp3s, the metadata of licensed files can be automatically updated whenever a player is connected to the internet. Labels will also have the option of providing user-customisable content.



    Automaticall updated = Fuck off and cry when I disconnect the service. (probably licensed from Microsoft and called 'Plays for Sure') Then all your paid for tracks will be useless.

    Fail for obvious reasons

  2. Anonymous Coward


    I predict this will crash and burn.

  3. whiteafrican

    umm, no thanks.

    "the metadata of licensed files can be automatically updated whenever a player is connected to the internet. Labels will also have the option of providing user-customisable content."

    El Reg, that's surely a typo. You mean, "Labels will also have the option of filling your device with advertising material."

    Secondly, who buys a song for the written lyrics etc? I mean, first of all, the lyrics are almost always online. Second of all, if you want your music to come with pictures etc., so they look better when you're showing off your iPod/phone/whatever then basic MP3s are already used for this function by every major player & service. What is the advantage of this new format if it offers no benefit in playback quality? It sounds distinctly like a new way to add DRM to digital music. Door, stable, horse, bolted.

  4. Rhythm

    The benefits are...?

    So by buying the track legally I open myself to being watched and then bombarded with spam, with no extra boost to sound quality. Forgive me for not thinking that this is a particularly compelling "benefit".

    1. Pablo


      For a second I thought this sounded like a vaguely good idea, but when you put it that way... not so much.

  5. irish donkey

    The good thing about MP3 is

    its easy and it's free

    It would be nice to have Mp3 with Extra but would the content be worth paying for or will it be like DVD extra content. $hite

    1. Steen Hive
      Thumb Down

      Easy and free?

      My arse. It's patented up to it's neck.

      You misspelled "vorbis" - easy, free and as a bonus, better-sounding a lot of the time.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Can't take it with you

        Doesn't work on my mp3 player though. (Do we have music players that play other formats yet?)

        1. Rattus Rattus

          Yes, lots

          A lot of players will play a variety of formats these day. My Samsung Pebble plays Ogg Vorbis, in fact this was the reason I chose it over the other ones I was considering.

    2. Big-nosed Pengie


      MP3 is not free - it's licensed by Fraunhoffer. You must be thinking of Ogg Vorbis.

  6. Captain Underpants

    How is that a benefit?

    Couldn't the same thing be achieved by making the album/track artwork a QR code containing the artist's website link? (Because let's face it, all the things they list as "advantages" are things that the artist should be pushing through their web presence).

    Quite aside from which, I have no idea why I would want to have my files remotely updated by these fine folk every time I go on the internet. Sounds like a recipe for disaster.

    I'll stick to my download once, listen forever account with emusic, thanks.

  7. Fluffykins Silver badge

    Yeah, right

    "lyrics, artwork and tour dates to blog posts, videos and Twitter feeds"

    Why? Not all music lovers are cretins.

    Sounds like another dose of "Web 2.0" and "an enhanced listening experience"

    Crank that whalesong up to 11 (and DRM it to buggery)

    And if the record industry thinks I'm gonna trust them with fumbling around inside my PC - especially after the malware that Sony tried to foist on everyone - may I just say: FOAD.

    Any odds how long before the first exploit?

    (Can we have a FOAD icon, please)

    1. Eddy Ito

      Ok, ok...

      I gotta know, what would a FOAD icon look like? All I can envision is a frog or toad giving the bird.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Don't hit me

        It would be a picture of the Moderatrix being angry or something. FOAD souds like something she'd say a lot.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Leave my metadata alone!

    And I can find all that other junk using a search engine, thanks.

    Nope, we need another idea.

  9. Combat Wombat

    This line says why it will fail

    MusicDNA files will be backwards compatible with existing MP3 players though, so will offer no improvement in sound quality

    Ahh so no improvement in sound quality, but loaded up with a pile of DRM and useless crap?

    Yes, i will be sticking with my MP3's thank you :P

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Now with bonus advertising

    It must have been a 21st century Einstein that came up with this one. I can imagine the meeting:

    "Hey, look, this'll stop the kids stealing music and stop Bono whining. We'll have a new format and it will include adverts. It'll also phone home so we know what they are listening to. They'll lap it up when they see the advantages over a vanilla mp3. Bring on the celebratory hookers and Columbian marching powder, we're gonna be rich again!!!"

    1. Havin_it

      Columbian marching powder?

      Nah, I'm pretty sure it was Discovery's hangar they found the wrap of chang in. Columbia's hangar hasn't been that much of a party zone lately.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I can't wait

    I can't wait for my music player to send all my personal information to someone who can then spam me with "targeted" ads. How cool!!!

  12. gollux

    Secret tracks...

    and bum content. This has all been tried before. Do you buy the DVD to watch the movie, or for the sometimes snide development chatter, goober game and cut with reason alternate takes?

    All I need is for the stupid thing to open a browser and shoving twitter feeds at me just because I'm playing a song. I play the stuff for the audio experience.

  13. James Boag


    Yet another place for malware to hide can't see this ever working.

  14. criscros


    My, what a bit of FAIL this is... It's just an mp3 with tags added at the end -- and as a bonus, this FAIL could only have come through Fraunhofer because those lametards own the patent for mp3 and would sue any other lametard who would try this first.

  15. The Fuzzy Wotnot


    So I can have DRM free old files that work with everything and no changes needed or these new DRM loaded files that can only be used with the very latest devices and software ( yes I know about the backward compat mode, but if want the full SP ), which are endorsed by the nasty corps?

    Hmmm, tricky choice that one!

  16. JeffShortland

    This reminds me of another file...

    Files that dial out from your machine whenever you're connected to the internet, to broadcast information from your machine to the home server?

    my outbound firewall is going to LOVE you.

  17. SuperTim

    Sound great....

    i can still play my "backup" Mp3 files on any new device that features it...... Not sure that i am bothered about the whole "bonus" features of the new format though. Lyrics? dont care..... Tour dates? dont care...... Pretty pictures? dont care.

    And since when would they "update" the information anyway? I cant see a band updating any content other than pushing tour tickets. It would be money for nothing (no pun intended, dire straits fans).

    so all in all, it doesnt actually stop the piracy, it merely attempts to get people to pay for the track because it contains stuff you can get for free from anywhere.

  18. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Srsly?

    Good lord, that's the internettiest comment I've seen in quite some time.

    1. criscros

      y thnk u



    2. mmiied
      Thumb Up


      and congrats on the invention on the word "internettiest"

    3. Rattus Rattus

      O rly?

      Can't be. He didn't even use the terms 'epic' or 'lol,' not to mention it was mostly spelled correctly. And there was no cat doing dumb stuff.

  19. Dr. Mouse

    Very obvious...

    "MusicDNA files will be backwards compatible with existing MP3 players though, so will offer no improvement in sound quality"

    The music industry wouldnt want an improvement in sound quality. Most of their (newer) artists sound aweful, so bad quality (and audio processing) hide this.

    If they want me to buy "digital" music:

    a) Produce music I want to listen to, and

    b) Sell them in FLAC

  20. YumDogfood


    Won't be long before someone does a nice little app to strip the crud from the MP3 data... given that this takes off of course (like a lead brick I think).

  21. Craig 3


    MP3 ID3 pretty much holds all the info you want.

    It would have been better to start up a company that focused on filling these bits in, including the URL metadata (which then would be useful to point to gigs n stuff).

    But no, it's DRM, in a fluffy package back door.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "a fluffy package back door"

      Sounds a bit wrong to me.

  22. Josh 15
    Thumb Up

    The benefit of the doubt

    Hmmm. Let's not be quite so quick to dimiss this out of hand as yet another evil machination on the part of greedy music moguls still pining for the lost Eden of limitless profits from an out-dated retail mechanism. I'll whisper it, but this could actually represent some of the first progressive thinking in how music is sold and marketed in the digital era.

    I know. It's a heresy, but there you go. If the music business spent more time investing in this sort of R&D, rather than staging endless showtrials and employing ambulance-chasing lawyers we might actually see a greater proportion of music fans being prepared to ditch their torrent clients and embrace a value-added, content-rich, continuously updated retail model.

    I know it's cool to hate on the fat-cat music biz crooks, but let's just see if they give this idea or something similar a try. For all their lazy, petulant intransigence, I'm still willing to let them state their case make a fresh start of it.

  23. Jolyon

    Well at least someone's having a go

    I'm not convinced it will work but it's one approach to resolving the conflict between music downloaders and music makers.

    Obviously it's DRM - it's just DRM that they hope some people may want or at least tolerate.

    And as ever it won't be the opinions of us regtards that decide the success or failure of the plan.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Empty space

    I really couldn't be less interested in yet another file format which promises to deliver what I already get elsewhere. Only this time, the damn things will want to track me!... Oh, and bombard me with a ton of content I don't even want.

    If it can be played, it can be copied. If it can be copied, it can be converted. And if it can be converted, it will all end up in a file format like MP3 or FLAC or anything else we want... minus all the other garbage they will try to cram down our throats. It's all just another form of DRM.

    Will these idiots never learn? They're trying to continue a business model that ceased to function a decade ago. It's dying... let's pull the plug already!

  25. Tom 7

    I hope the car industry doesnt get as desperate

    as the music industry, and steal our roads and then make our cars go to their friends shops and you can only fill your ford on ford two star

  26. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    Not really DRM

    As noted, all this could be done with ID tags and it's the player or application over-seeing all those files which keeps them updated.

    I've used MP3 tracks with additional tags to make what's shown on a small LCD screens more suitable than what other tags contain with my own MP3 player application, I could also store licensing information in there if I wanted.

    None of that stops the MP3 being used as an MP3, it doesn't make MP3 DRM'd in any sense except a player can look for such licensed information and reject those without it. A player not looking for that meta data will play it just as before, unless what's proposed here is a more significant shift in what's in an MP3 file, and that doesn't seem possible while maintaining the promised backwards compatibility.

    Seems little different to dynamically changing the song's filename to have "[Next Gig: London Apollo]" on the end. You can remove that or any tag or add to make a song compatible with a DRM'd application which wants it.

  27. 46Bit


    Gotta love the music biz:

    Q) We're losing money because we don't know what good music is anymore and so hire awful artists - what can we do?

    A1) Blame open-source advocates/the general public/free speech/invent fake pirating stats.

    A2) Come up with some bullshit to convince people that they should pay much more for ad-/spyware that costs them v. little to produce.

    A3) Demand control of the internet to prevent vastly exaggerated pirating that doesn't really happen.

    A4) Extort money via entrapment off grandparents/other innocent people that half the time probably don't even know what HTTP stands for because we want to send a message that they're money grabbing bastards ... and that we're not.

  28. stupiddairyfarmer

    The rest of the story...

    ...they'll only play in Silverlight!

  29. Heff

    What a fabulous idea

    I mean, considering theres no big label support, and they're releasing a nive little player to go with it! which is super cute, because being a complete unknown and competing with iPods is afantastic business model which cant possibly fail at all.

    you really want to push DRM music? let me download an album in FLAC --AND-- throw in the digital masters, so I can strip individual elements. then we might have something to talk about, otherwise... really? every DRM system has a built-in fail point beyond which the files will refuse to authenticate and play. why would I pay money for something that is guaranteed not to work one day, and not because of a bad scratch, cracked vinyl, or tired tape, but because the DRM company couldnt hold up its side of the bargain?

    and unlike disc scratches, tape failure, etc, when that day rolls around its not just one album. It'd be like waking up one morning to discover every CD you bought from EMI just evaporated. thats why people dont touch the damned things.

  30. Nathan 13
    Thumb Down

    Fail 2.0

    This has got to be a great example of thinking up a cr@p idea that nobody wants or needs, and would actually make the experience worse at the same time.

    Was this thought up by the Labour Party?

  31. Eddy Ito
    Jobs Horns

    Let's ask, shall we?

    Perhaps these geniuses should ask listeners what really matters to them instead of asking RIAA. They might find out something really odd, for example it may be that folks really want a karaoke option where the vocals are muted and the lyrics have a bouncing ball; maybe some folks would like to detract or enhance percussion, bass, brass or guitar as a way to practice perhaps with the notes displayed a musician-karaoke if you will. Whatever it is, it has to be portable if for no other reason than a guitarist with a pignose could use nothing more than an !pod for backup.

    Oh, if someone wants to do this, feel free. I hereby cast the idea into the public domain, sorry Steve no patent there, that said the implementation is up to you.

    1. Swarthy

      There's an idea

      A music file format that supported multiple stereo tracks (vocals, instrument1, Instrument2, etc) bonus points if the tracks are tagable so you could have instrument1 be guitar, or bagpipes, or xylophone.

      The note/tabliture for a track (sub-track?) could be stored as metadata attached to each subtrack, possibly in the form of an attendant MIDI file. The format would be huge, essentially 3+ MP3s, and 2+ MIDI files per file unless there was some badass compression involved.

      I think I might actually be willing to tolerate some DRM for that. (provided that it's a pay-once, keep forever, unlike the napster model that when you stopped paying, your music stopped playing)

  32. TechGeezer

    DRMs discourage people from seeking legal channels.

    Eh? Then that means I can't take my MP3's which reside on my SD cards, and use them in my car stereo. I see this as an EPIC FAIL if they want to prevent people stealing MP3s. The only way you can encourage people to buy their MP3s is to change the music business model. However there are still people that mistakenly believe that they can make music, thus make money. Nope. If you are professional musicians, then you need to look into other revenue streams. Merchandise, trademarking the band name, touring, proper marketting etc etc. This is where the money is at.

    I will NEVER use DRM protected MP3s and will ALWAYS seek alternatives. Currently I buy all my MP3s from 7Digital where there is no DRM, and it will play on my mobile, my car stereo, my computer, ........

  33. Anonymous Coward

    Music DNA database

    When you connect to interwebs they will create a database of which users bought and therefore own each track, so if two users have the same assets they know who bought it first and therefore who the Long John Silvers are. Wait... is that black spot? Sound useful?

  34. rcdicky


    Pretty strange one this isn't it?

    Unless I'm missing something iTunes already gets the album artwork for me... Yes it's a bit anal, but I quite like my music having it's artwork.

    I don't know the techy stuff around it, but the end result is the same.

    Lyrics/Tour dates etc can all be found online, can't imagine people are that fussed about having them on their mp3 players? Oh, and can't most mp3 players handle lyrics already?

    And it not being superior sound to mp3 seems a bit strange. Whatever happened to mp3hd, which supposedly does have better sound?

    Even if mp3hd doesn't/didn't take off there's always FLAC (yeah, the files are massive but so's my PC's hard drive ;) )

    I feel like I'm probably missing the point, but from what I can see mp3 already does what this claims to do??

  35. Charles 9

    When it comes to solutions...

    ...simple usually wins out. MP3 managed to deliver quality and do it simply--one file, one song, and at good enough standards. The only way you're gonna beat MP3 is to either deliver something as simple as MP3 but better...or deliver something SIMPLER than MP3 (which I frankly think will be hard to do, considering how simple MP3 is already).

  36. Tom 35

    Enhanced CD for the net?

    Get extra cool (ie crap) stuff, you just have to use our player.

    The player will be an ad filled, spyware app that makes windows media player look good.

    FOAD indeed.

  37. Watashi

    Blue pill or red pill?

    DRM? Woah, deja vu.

  38. bruceld
    Black Helicopters


    I'm 110% all for supporting the artists and NOT the media corporations. There are too many problems with this idea.

    I might be missing something here, but I could see how this new format be interesting to indie artists that rely on the distribution of their music for absolutely free and without compensation, but rely solely on having their fans attend their concerts and buy their merchandise. I can't see anything wrong with unknown artists wanting their concert and merchandising info to be fed to their music files in the hopes to earn a living.

    But, why not create MP3 ID4 that will do this instead?

    I would NEVER support such a thing if it were flogged by Sony/WMG/EMI/etc. Fuck them.

    As for the DRM. Indie and unknown artists need to understand that DRM will only destroy their chances. I'd also be concerned if the streaming information content distribution of this MusicDNA got hacked it could wreak havoc upon their fans and will drive them away permanently. That is very very dangerous.

    In addition, what if someone created a virus that hunted down MusicDNA music files and hacked them to become spam relays or part of a botnet? What if they were hacked to spew porn, pharmaceuticals, gambling spam instead?

    As a general rule, ANY closed format file is very bad for business.

  39. heyrick Silver badge


    So we'll be able to have our browsers open on a forum full of people complaining that every time they listen to the damn song their browser open on the forum full of people complaining about how their brows..... and so on.

    Nothing about this sounds good. Nothing about this sounds useful. In fact, it sounds like something of a recipe for disaster - didn't anybody learn from Sony's failed rootkit attempt? A choice between an "enhanced" MP3 and a <cough>download</cough>, I think the legal risk is slightly less bothersome than the security risk.

    Okay, say it with me. Three times for emphasis.




  40. Anonymous Coward

    MP3 will live forever

    The music industry needs to adapt their business model rather than trying to protect the existing model. We've been downloading illegally since the late 1990s and the music industry is still alive and kicking. The industry won't adapt until illegal downloads truly start to hurt the bottom line.

    1. Big-nosed Pengie

      Die, MP3, Die

      Die and be replaced by open codecs.

  41. Anonymous Coward


    "In what is claimed as MusicDNA's main advantage over illegally downloaded MP3s ..."

    What's the advantage over LEGALLY downloaded MP3s then? (Or do they not realise that it's perfectly possible to have MP3 files that are not "illegal").

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The only reason why mp3 dominates is because it means your collection isn't dependent on a specific device/app since pretty much every one of them supports this format.

    Now, if you want to get a movement to a new standard format going it has to be based on the focus of the medium. In the case of music, it's the audio - specifically, the fidelity. This is where the migration towards FLAC needs to happen, and the embracing of the file format by those in control of the content.

    However, even with a significant improvement to the quality of the audio, you're gonna find a good chunk of people will stick with mp3 because it provides what they want (the audio), a means of labelling each track (ID3 tags) and is of a sufficient quality for where they're using it and so don't see a need to buy a new copy.

    I guess the cash cow of changing formats requiring you to buy yet another copy of something you have owned before is dead too - this is one of the other reasons why I love the digital file :D

  43. Diogenes

    The decomposing composers

    Can't image Hildegard of Bingen, Mozart, Beethoven or Wagner doing much twittering or for that matter von Karajan or Solti doing much blogging.

    I know the Konzertgebouw, and Berlin and Vienna Phils aren't going to visit Australia soon, and the Bayreuth Festival also won't be coming this way soon either, and as for the 'Oyley Carte that disappeared a long time ago so I won't get any twits from them...

    As for the words - when listening to sacred music - they are all the same ... except when Mrs Schubert's naughty little Franz makes some subtle changes in the Credo in D167 - and Opera or Oratoria - well who really cares? - I don't speak french or italian, and can pick up enough when sung in german or english not to need to worry, especially if the choir/chorus is good and the soloists enunciate.

    These idiots assume only contemporary music is being ripped - I am not to worried about the mp3 quality loss, as I play the music mostly in a noisy kitchen (moonlighting as a dishpig whilst I finish my degree - it keeps the FOH staff and the rest of the kitchen staff out of my little kingdom :-) ) .

    So many icons to choose from ....

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Online ?

    How is my pocket mp3 player meant to connect online ?

    Having waited 10 years until the format "stabilised" and having just spent the last year upgrading my 200 gig mp3 collection to 320 kbps I have a feeling that the introduction of a new format is going to, erm, be unwelcome with me.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    MusicDNA = Spyware AdWare

    Think this new fanged formats just another spyware app in the making

    - Getting your Tracks too call home is just another way of getting money earning statistics information that the track is still being played so you can then use to put on more concerts so you get even more money.

    - Its also another way of spying on the customers. “Well he put it on the ipod played it 500 times, and that other pc and gave a copy to his friend, and now he has let the whole world have a copy”

    I say NO to MusicDNA it can die like all the others that have failed before it

  46. Tom Kelsall
    Thumb Down

    No title required.

    All that has to be done, is to convince the artists to step outside the vicious chain of promotor/distributor control. Incentivise the artists to produce music for themselves and publicise/sell it themselves and the likes of Louis Walsh/Simon Cowell will be no more... Artists will make money from their music and mere humans like you and I will have access to what we want at sensible prices.

    Let's remember - the promotor/distributor geeks who actually bring the lawsuits (with the exception of f**kwit Bono) are NOT trying to protect artist copyright... they're trying to protect their own profits...

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In the mind of a music downloader

    When I want a song, I first check a website such as If the track is available there DRM free, then I will pay for it and download it. If I cannot find a legal way to obtain it, I go on to check more nefarious sources.

    Seriously, make stuff available easily, or the pirates are offering a better service than you. The people who break the law will still do it, it's just the legitimate buyers you hurt by restricting them. It applies more to computer games with stuff like activation limits, but it's the same principle.

  48. Anonymous Coward

    Record companies

    When will they realise that the way forward is to invest money in acts in the same way that they used to.

    We need less of these acts which last a year (tops) and are based entirely on mass advertising campains (X Factor etc) and a return to the traditional ways of finding musicians.

    In a lyric I first heard over a decade ago "If The Doors or John Lennon were getting started now, the industry wouldn't touch them in a million years"...

    So less DRM and hype and more artist development. Everyone knows it makes sense!

    (It also means we'll see less shit like Jedward!)

  49. This post has been deleted by its author

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why do we still use FAT on flash drives?

    There are far better formats, even MS would agree, although i imagine they are still getting by on licenses for it.

    The reason is simple and its the same as why we use mp3 as a format and why HD tv is not being taken up as quick as say DVDs were, there is little customer benefit and what is perceived is even less compared to the effort and hassle perceived in changing.

  51. Anonymous Coward

    The F-word

    1. Play file with MusicDNA in approved player.

    2. Capture raw digital audio at driver.

    3. Save without DRM in a format of your choice MP3, Ogg....

    4. Share via chosen method (torrent, usenet, etc).

    Latest DRM nonsense shown to be worthless - Done!

  52. TeeCee Gold badge

    "...will offer no improvement in sound quality"

    So, to paraphrase: New improved Shit, now available with extra Shit.

    I believe that WMA and the Zune have this market already sewn up though.

This topic is closed for new posts.