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MP3 Format Still Gathering Momentum

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the thrashing-of-expiring-dinosaurs dept.

Music 417

PoliTech sends us over to Billboard.com for a detailed article about the coming tipping point in the music business in favor of MP3. The two biggest drivers pushing Warner and Sony BMG toward MP3 are an upcoming massive Amazon-Pepsi download giveaway and a positive move by the usually maligned Wal-Mart (according to sources): "...Wal-Mart [alerted] Warner Music Group and Sony BMG that it will pull their music files in the Windows Media Audio format from walmart.com some time between mid-December and mid-January, if the labels haven't yet provided the music in MP3 format."

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I'm still a little skeptical (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21566423)

I am waiting for MP3.1 to come out before I try it.

Re:I'm still a little skeptical (4, Funny)

Jarjarthejedi (996957) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566463)

I'm just gonna go ahead and wait for MP48's, so I can play them on my HHDDVVDDBVD player.

Re:I'm still a little skeptical (4, Funny)

Winckle (870180) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566565)

Oh man, you mean you still haven't got a HHDDVVDDBVD+ player?!?

It's got higher definition than outside.

Re:I'm still a little skeptical (0)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566625)

I know that is a joke, but wouldn't it's resolution have to be smaller than the 'strings' of string theory in order to be a higher resolution than outside?
How about "greater resolution than the eye"?

Re:I'm still a little skeptical (1)

JebusIsLord (566856) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566917)

Nope, just smaller than half a wavelength of light.

Re:I'm still a little skeptical (1)

hyperball (1038196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566659)

and we'll party like it's 1999!

Re:I'm still a little skeptical (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21566777)

mary had a little lamb
with fleece as white as snow

he scope of a yearlong download promotion planned between Pepsi and Amazon, Billboard has learned, is among several developments forcing further consideration by Warner Music Group (WMG) and Sony BMG Music Entertainment to follow EMI and Universal Music Group's lead in distributing music in the MP3 format.

News of the Pepsi promotion, which is expected to be announced Feb. 3 during the Super Bowl, coincides with an ultimatum from Wal-Mart asking major labels to supply walmart.com with their music in MP3, sources say. Labels, meanwhile, say they have been watching the success of an MP3 test UMG began in August; the major continues to allow the sale of 85% of its current catalog as MP3s. Sources say UMG is on the verge of permanently embracing that digital format. But a source close to the testing insists the decision is still up in the air while the company awaits conclusive results from the trial, which are due in mid-January.

Meanwhile, Hollywood Records has joined the list of major-distributed labels testing MP3 at Amazon and walmart.com. The company has supplied 30-40 titles from its mammoth catalog in the MP3 format. A check of those sites shows the latest albums from Atreyu and Grace Potter & the Nocturnals on the Hollywood label available in the MP3 format, though they are not available at iTunes.

EMI began selling its music in MP3 in June. WMG and Sony BMG Music Entertainment both declined to comment, but have continued to publicly maintain their separate stances in favor of using digital rights management for downloads.

Sources say Sony BMG is now considering an MP3 test. The company was initially steadfast against MP3 and wouldn't allow its independent distributor, RED Distribution, to engage in negotiations on behalf of its labels with Amazon when the merchant was trying to set up its MP3 download store. But Sony BMG management relented and let RED become involved in those negotiations. The parent company, however, refused to supply Amazon with its catalog in the MP3 format.

PEPSI FREE

Pepsi's track record with download giveaways may be motivating labels. According to sources, Pepsi will feature a download promotion on the inside of 5 billion of its soda bottlecaps. Sources say Pepsi customers will need to collect five caps in order to exchange them for a download; this yields the potential for 1 billion redeemable tracks. A Pepsi spokesperson declined to comment.

Pepsi's first stab at giving away free music downloads, which was conducted in partnership with iTunes in 2004, was also promoted via a highly visible Super Bowl campaign. It resulted in 5 million people downloading free songs in the space of three months-5% of the 100 million tracks that were offered.

While the 5 million digital tracks redeemed in the campaign reportedly fell short of the 25 million target redemption rate, that was in the early days of digital distribution, when Apple was reporting selling digital tracks at a rate of 2.7 million per week.

Since then, with the widespread success of the iPod-which is likely to be even more popular come Christmas-digital track sales have grown by 416%, from the 142.6 million tracks scanned in 2004 to the 735.4 million tracks accumulated so far this year, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Based on trends of the past few years, Billboard estimates that digital download sales could increase by another 5 million per week next year.

In the week after Christmas in 2006, track sales totaled 30.1 million, a 51% increase from the 19.9 million scanned in the corresponding week of the previous year-which was, in turn, a 197% increase over the 6.7 million scans generated during the corresponding week of 2005. Digital downloads generally increase drastically after consumers receive iPods and iPod gift cards for Christmas.

In the new Pepsi promotion, sources say, Amazon will serve as the supplier for the downloads, and customers will need to visit a specific redemption store on the Amazon site to access music from participating labels. While all majors have been approached about participating in the offer, the price that Amazon is willing to pay appears to still be a sticking point for some labels.

Sources say that Amazon will pay labels in the area of 40 cents per track. This compares to the 65 cents-70 cents labels currently receive from Amazon for digital track sales and the 70 cents they get from Apple.

In the 2004 promotion, Pepsi paid iTunes directly for each track redeemed. iTunes then paid record labels the same per-track wholesale fee they would receive if it had been a regular paid download. It's not known exactly how much Pepsi paid iTunes-whether it was the full 99-cent cost or just enough to cover iTunes' obligation to the labels, or somewhere in between.

Regardless of which labels ultimately sign on, the Super Bowl commercials will nonetheless double as the coming-out party for Amazon's digital download site, which soft-launched Sept. 25. Since then, without aggressively promoting its download business, Amazon has captured about a 3% market share of the digital download channel, Billboard estimates. The store has a 6% market share of all CD sales.

WAL-MART's WISHES

Another factor driving the labels' decisions, sources say, involves mass merchant Wal-Mart alerting WMG and Sony BMG that it will pull their music files in the Windows Media Audio format from walmart.com some time between mid-December and mid-January, if the labels haven't yet provided the music in MP3 format.

Wal-Mart declined comment. "It's a matter of policy that we don't publicly comment on speculation," walmart.com spokeswoman Amy Colella says. "We know digital music is important to our customers, and we're very pleased with the recent performance and customer response to our digital music offering."

Though Wal-Mart maintains a modest 2% market share in the digital download arena, its market share for physical CDs is considerably larger: about 22%, Billboard estimates. A senior executive at one of the other majors says that if Sony BMG or WMG resist the merchant's digital requests, they may be concerned about risking such consequences as losing out on prime in-store real estate or smaller buy-ins on new releases in the physical world.

Finally, given the steep decline in U.S. CD sales-so far, down 18.6% year to date compared with last year-music executives have been vocally worried about what the new year will bring for the physical format.By switching to a digital format that is compatible with all portable devices-including the all-important iPod-the move could help merchants like Wal-Mart and Amazon capture some of iTunes' 70% market share, and perhaps grow the overall size of the digital marketplace.

he scope of a yearlong download promotion planned between Pepsi and Amazon, Billboard has learned, is among several developments forcing further consideration by Warner Music Group (WMG) and Sony BMG Music Entertainment to follow EMI and Universal Music Group's lead in distributing music in the MP3 format.

News of the Pepsi promotion, which is expected to be announced Feb. 3 during the Super Bowl, coincides with an ultimatum from Wal-Mart asking major labels to supply walmart.com with their music in MP3, sources say. Labels, meanwhile, say they have been watching the success of an MP3 test UMG began in August; the major continues to allow the sale of 85% of its current catalog as MP3s. Sources say UMG is on the verge of permanently embracing that digital format. But a source close to the testing insists the decision is still up in the air while the company awaits conclusive results from the trial, which are due in mid-January.

Meanwhile, Hollywood Records has joined the list of major-distributed labels testing MP3 at Amazon and walmart.com. The company has supplied 30-40 titles from its mammoth catalog in the MP3 format. A check of those sites shows the latest albums from Atreyu and Grace Potter & the Nocturnals on the Hollywood label available in the MP3 format, though they are not available at iTunes.

EMI began selling its music in MP3 in June. WMG and Sony BMG Music Entertainment both declined to comment, but have continued to publicly maintain their separate stances in favor of using digital rights management for downloads.

Sources say Sony BMG is now considering an MP3 test. The company was initially steadfast against MP3 and wouldn't allow its independent distributor, RED Distribution, to engage in negotiations on behalf of its labels with Amazon when the merchant was trying to set up its MP3 download store. But Sony BMG management relented and let RED become involved in those negotiations. The parent company, however, refused to supply Amazon with its catalog in the MP3 format.

PEPSI FREE

Pepsi's track record with download giveaways may be motivating labels. According to sources, Pepsi will feature a download promotion on the inside of 5 billion of its soda bottlecaps. Sources say Pepsi customers will need to collect five caps in order to exchange them for a download; this yields the potential for 1 billion redeemable tracks. A Pepsi spokesperson declined to comment.

Pepsi's first stab at giving away free music downloads, which was conducted in partnership with iTunes in 2004, was also promoted via a highly visible Super Bowl campaign. It resulted in 5 million people downloading free songs in the space of three months-5% of the 100 million tracks that were offered.

While the 5 million digital tracks redeemed in the campaign reportedly fell short of the 25 million target redemption rate, that was in the early days of digital distribution, when Apple was reporting selling digital tracks at a rate of 2.7 million per week.

Since then, with the widespread success of the iPod-which is likely to be even more popular come Christmas-digital track sales have grown by 416%, from the 142.6 million tracks scanned in 2004 to the 735.4 million tracks accumulated so far this year, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Based on trends of the past few years, Billboard estimates that digital download sales could increase by another 5 million per week next year.

In the week after Christmas in 2006, track sales totaled 30.1 million, a 51% increase from the 19.9 million scanned in the corresponding week of the previous year-which was, in turn, a 197% increase over the 6.7 million scans generated during the corresponding week of 2005. Digital downloads generally increase drastically after consumers receive iPods and iPod gift cards for Christmas.

In the new Pepsi promotion, sources say, Amazon will serve as the supplier for the downloads, and customers will need to visit a specific redemption store on the Amazon site to access music from participating labels. While all majors have been approached about participating in the offer, the price that Amazon is willing to pay appears to still be a sticking point for some labels.

Sources say that Amazon will pay labels in the area of 40 cents per track. This compares to the 65 cents-70 cents labels currently receive from Amazon for digital track sales and the 70 cents they get from Apple.

In the 2004 promotion, Pepsi paid iTunes directly for each track redeemed. iTunes then paid record labels the same per-track wholesale fee they would receive if it had been a regular paid download. It's not known exactly how much Pepsi paid iTunes-whether it was the full 99-cent cost or just enough to cover iTunes' obligation to the labels, or somewhere in between.

Regardless of which labels ultimately sign on, the Super Bowl commercials will nonetheless double as the coming-out party for Amazon's digital download site, which soft-launched Sept. 25. Since then, without aggressively promoting its download business, Amazon has captured about a 3% market share of the digital download channel, Billboard estimates. The store has a 6% market share of all CD sales.

WAL-MART's WISHES

Another factor driving the labels' decisions, sources say, involves mass merchant Wal-Mart alerting WMG and Sony BMG that it will pull their music files in the Windows Media Audio format from walmart.com some time between mid-December and mid-January, if the labels haven't yet provided the music in MP3 format.

Wal-Mart declined comment. "It's a matter of policy that we don't publicly comment on speculation," walmart.com spokeswoman Amy Colella says. "We know digital music is important to our customers, and we're very pleased with the recent performance and customer response to our digital music offering."

Though Wal-Mart maintains a modest 2% market share in the digital download arena, its market share for physical CDs is considerably larger: about 22%, Billboard estimates. A senior executive at one of the other majors says that if Sony BMG or WMG resist the merchant's digital requests, they may be concerned about risking such consequences as losing out on prime in-store real estate or smaller buy-ins on new releases in the physical world.

Finally, given the steep decline in U.S. CD sales-so far, down 18.6% year to date compared with last year-music executives have been vocally worried about what the new year will bring for the physical format.By switching to a digital format that is compatible with all portable devices-including the all-important iPod-the move could help merchants like Wal-Mart and Amazon capture some of iTunes' 70% market share, and perhaps grow the overall size of the digital marketplace.

he scope of a yearlong download promotion planned between Pepsi and Amazon, Billboard has learned, is among several developments forcing further consideration by Warner Music Group (WMG) and Sony BMG Music Entertainment to follow EMI and Universal Music Group's lead in distributing music in the MP3 format.

News of the Pepsi promotion, which is expected to be announced Feb. 3 during the Super Bowl, coincides with an ultimatum from Wal-Mart asking major labels to supply walmart.com with their music in MP3, sources say. Labels, meanwhile, say they have been watching the success of an MP3 test UMG began in August; the major continues to allow the sale of 85% of its current catalog as MP3s. Sources say UMG is on the verge of permanently embracing that digital format. But a source close to the testing insists the decision is still up in the air while the company awaits conclusive results from the trial, which are due in mid-January.

Meanwhile, Hollywood Records has joined the list of major-distributed labels testing MP3 at Amazon and walmart.com. The company has supplied 30-40 titles from its mammoth catalog in the MP3 format. A check of those sites shows the latest albums from Atreyu and Grace Potter & the Nocturnals on the Hollywood label available in the MP3 format, though they are not available at iTunes.

EMI began selling its music in MP3 in June. WMG and Sony BMG Music Entertainment both declined to comment, but have continued to publicly maintain their separate stances in favor of using digital rights management for downloads.

Sources say Sony BMG is now considering an MP3 test. The company was initially steadfast against MP3 and wouldn't allow its independent distributor, RED Distribution, to engage in negotiations on behalf of its labels with Amazon when the merchant was trying to set up its MP3 download store. But Sony BMG management relented and let RED become involved in those negotiations. The parent company, however, refused to supply Amazon with its catalog in the MP3 format.

PEPSI FREE

Pepsi's track record with download giveaways may be motivating labels. According to sources, Pepsi will feature a download promotion on the inside of 5 billion of its soda bottlecaps. Sources say Pepsi customers will need to collect five caps in order to exchange them for a download; this yields the potential for 1 billion redeemable tracks. A Pepsi spokesperson declined to comment.

Pepsi's first stab at giving away free music downloads, which was conducted in partnership with iTunes in 2004, was also promoted via a highly visible Super Bowl campaign. It resulted in 5 million people downloading free songs in the space of three months-5% of the 100 million tracks that were offered.

While the 5 million digital tracks redeemed in the campaign reportedly fell short of the 25 million target redemption rate, that was in the early days of digital distribution, when Apple was reporting selling digital tracks at a rate of 2.7 million per week.

Since then, with the widespread success of the iPod-which is likely to be even more popular come Christmas-digital track sales have grown by 416%, from the 142.6 million tracks scanned in 2004 to the 735.4 million tracks accumulated so far this year, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Based on trends of the past few years, Billboard estimates that digital download sales could increase by another 5 million per week next year.

In the week after Christmas in 2006, track sales totaled 30.1 million, a 51% increase from the 19.9 million scanned in the corresponding week of the previous year-which was, in turn, a 197% increase over the 6.7 million scans generated during the corresponding week of 2005. Digital downloads generally increase drastically after consumers receive iPods and iPod gift cards for Christmas.

In the new Pepsi promotion, sources say, Amazon will serve as the supplier for the downloads, and customers will need to visit a specific redemption store on the Amazon site to access music from participating labels. While all majors have been approached about participating in the offer, the price that Amazon is willing to pay appears to still be a sticking point for some labels.

Sources say that Amazon will pay labels in the area of 40 cents per track. This compares to the 65 cents-70 cents labels currently receive from Amazon for digital track sales and the 70 cents they get from Apple.

In the 2004 promotion, Pepsi paid iTunes directly for each track redeemed. iTunes then paid record labels the same per-track wholesale fee they would receive if it had been a regular paid download. It's not known exactly how much Pepsi paid iTunes-whether it was the full 99-cent cost or just enough to cover iTunes' obligation to the labels, or somewhere in between.

Regardless of which labels ultimately sign on, the Super Bowl commercials will nonetheless double as the coming-out party for Amazon's digital download site, which soft-launched Sept. 25. Since then, without aggressively promoting its download business, Amazon has captured about a 3% market share of the digital download channel, Billboard estimates. The store has a 6% market share of all CD sales.

WAL-MART's WISHES

Another factor driving the labels' decisions, sources say, involves mass merchant Wal-Mart alerting WMG and Sony BMG that it will pull their music files in the Windows Media Audio format from walmart.com some time between mid-December and mid-January, if the labels haven't yet provided the music in MP3 format.

Wal-Mart declined comment. "It's a matter of policy that we don't publicly comment on speculation," walmart.com spokeswoman Amy Colella says. "We know digital music is important to our customers, and we're very pleased with the recent performance and customer response to our digital music offering."

Though Wal-Mart maintains a modest 2% market share in the digital download arena, its market share for physical CDs is considerably larger: about 22%, Billboard estimates. A senior executive at one of the other majors says that if Sony BMG or WMG resist the merchant's digital requests, they may be concerned about risking such consequences as losing out on prime in-store real estate or smaller buy-ins on new releases in the physical world.

Finally, given the steep decline in U.S. CD sales-so far, down 18.6% year to date compared with last year-music executives have been vocally worried about what the new year will bring for the physical format.By switching to a digital format that is compatible with all portable devices-including the all-important iPod-the move could help merchants like Wal-Mart and Amazon capture some of iTunes' 70% market share, and perhaps grow the overall size of the digital marketplace.

he scope of a yearlong download promotion planned between Pepsi and Amazon, Billboard has learned, is among several developments forcing further consideration by Warner Music Group (WMG) and Sony BMG Music Entertainment to follow EMI and Universal Music Group's lead in distributing music in the MP3 format.

News of the Pepsi promotion, which is expected to be announced Feb. 3 during the Super Bowl, coincides with an ultimatum from Wal-Mart asking major labels to supply walmart.com with their music in MP3, sources say. Labels, meanwhile, say they have been watching the success of an MP3 test UMG began in August; the major continues to allow the sale of 85% of its current catalog as MP3s. Sources say UMG is on the verge of permanently embracing that digital format. But a source close to the testing insists the decision is still up in the air while the company awaits conclusive results from the trial, which are due in mid-January.

Meanwhile, Hollywood Records has joined the list of major-distributed labels testing MP3 at Amazon and walmart.com. The company has supplied 30-40 titles from its mammoth catalog in the MP3 format. A check of those sites shows the latest albums from Atreyu and Grace Potter & the Nocturnals on the Hollywood label available in the MP3 format, though they are not available at iTunes.

EMI began selling its music in MP3 in June. WMG and Sony BMG Music Entertainment both declined to comment, but have continued to publicly maintain their separate stances in favor of using digital rights management for downloads.

Sources say Sony BMG is now considering an MP3 test. The company was initially steadfast against MP3 and wouldn't allow its independent distributor, RED Distribution, to engage in negotiations on behalf of its labels with Amazon when the merchant was trying to set up its MP3 download store. But Sony BMG management relented and let RED become involved in those negotiations. The parent company, however, refused to supply Amazon with its catalog in the MP3 format.

PEPSI FREE

Pepsi's track record with download giveaways may be motivating labels. According to sources, Pepsi will feature a download promotion on the inside of 5 billion of its soda bottlecaps. Sources say Pepsi customers will need to collect five caps in order to exchange them for a download; this yields the potential for 1 billion redeemable tracks. A Pepsi spokesperson declined to comment.

Pepsi's first stab at giving away free music downloads, which was conducted in partnership with iTunes in 2004, was also promoted via a highly visible Super Bowl campaign. It resulted in 5 million people downloading free songs in the space of three months-5% of the 100 million tracks that were offered.

While the 5 million digital tracks redeemed in the campaign reportedly fell short of the 25 million target redemption rate, that was in the early days of digital distribution, when Apple was reporting selling digital tracks at a rate of 2.7 million per week.

Since then, with the widespread success of the iPod-which is likely to be even more popular come Christmas-digital track sales have grown by 416%, from the 142.6 million tracks scanned in 2004 to the 735.4 million tracks accumulated so far this year, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Based on trends of the past few years, Billboard estimates that digital download sales could increase by another 5 million per week next year.

In the week after Christmas in 2006, track sales totaled 30.1 million, a 51% increase from the 19.9 million scanned in the corresponding week of the previous year-which was, in turn, a 197% increase over the 6.7 million scans generated during the corresponding week of 2005. Digital downloads generally increase drastically after consumers receive iPods and iPod gift cards for Christmas.

In the new Pepsi promotion, sources say, Amazon will serve as the supplier for the downloads, and customers will need to visit a specific redemption store on the Amazon site to access music from participating labels. While all majors have been approached about participating in the offer, the price that Amazon is willing to pay appears to still be a sticking point for some labels.

Sources say that Amazon will pay labels in the area of 40 cents per track. This compares to the 65 cents-70 cents labels currently receive from Amazon for digital track sales and the 70 cents they get from Apple.

In the 2004 promotion, Pepsi paid iTunes directly for each track redeemed. iTunes then paid record labels the same per-track wholesale fee they would receive if it had been a regular paid download. It's not known exactly how much Pepsi paid iTunes-whether it was the full 99-cent cost or just enough to cover iTunes' obligation to the labels, or somewhere in between.

Regardless of which labels ultimately sign on, the Super Bowl commercials will nonetheless double as the coming-out party for Amazon's digital download site, which soft-launched Sept. 25. Since then, without aggressively promoting its download business, Amazon has captured about a 3% market share of the digital download channel, Billboard estimates. The store has a 6% market share of all CD sales.

WAL-MART's WISHES

Another factor driving the labels' decisions, sources say, involves mass merchant Wal-Mart alerting WMG and Sony BMG that it will pull their music files in the Windows Media Audio format from walmart.com some time between mid-December and mid-January, if the labels haven't yet provided the music in MP3 format.

Wal-Mart declined comment. "It's a matter of policy that we don't publicly comment on speculation," walmart.com spokeswoman Amy Colella says. "We know digital music is important to our customers, and we're very pleased with the recent performance and customer response to our digital music offering."

Though Wal-Mart maintains a modest 2% market share in the digital download arena, its market share for physical CDs is considerably larger: about 22%, Billboard estimates. A senior executive at one of the other majors says that if Sony BMG or WMG resist the merchant's digital requests, they may be concerned about risking such consequences as losing out on prime in-store real estate or smaller buy-ins on new releases in the physical world.

Finally, given the steep decline in U.S. CD sales-so far, down 18.6% year to date compared with last year-music executives have been vocally worried about what the new year will bring for the physical format.By switching to a digital format that is compatible with all portable devices-including the all-important iPod-the move could help merchants like Wal-Mart and Amazon capture some of iTunes' 70% market share, and perhaps grow the overall size of the digital marketplace.

mp3PRO, MP4, MP5 (5, Funny)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566919)

I am waiting for MP3.1 to come out before I try it.
MP3.1 could be mp3PRO [wikipedia.org] . But a lot of people have moved on to MP4 [wikipedia.org] , and the gun nuts are even using MP5 [wikipedia.org] .

Really wish that they would support Ogg and others (4, Informative)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566447)

But MP3 is superior to WMA. It means that we will be able to listen to it when WE decide to, not when MS decides that we can.

Re:Really wish that they would support Ogg and oth (5, Informative)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566559)

But MP3 is superior to WMA. It means that we will be able to listen to it when WE decide to, not when MS decides that we can.

I'm usually a rabid MS-hater, but let's not spout FUD or falsehoods here. WMA is just a codec, and plays just fine on my Ubuntu machine. I'm pretty sure there's nothing that MS can do to take that away from me (technically, at least).

However, WMA does suffer from the familiar problem many other codecs do, in that it's binary-only AFAIK, so just like WMV, Real codecs, Sorensen (Quicktime), etc., you need the binary codec files and a player (like MPlayer) designed to use them, in order to play files using these codecs. Not only is this of highly questionable legality, but it also doesn't work on non-Intel machines since you can't recompile for your architecture. MP3, OTOH, doesn't suffer from this at all since it's an openly-documented format, and many different implementations have been made, including many free encoders and decoders. It does, however, suffer from being covered by patents, which is a different issue.

Ogg Vorbis, however, is truly the best option, since 1) it has the best technical performance of any of them, and 2) it's completely free and open, not just in implementation and code but also is free of patents. I keep all my ripped music in O-V format, which works equally well on my home machine playing Amarok, and on my portable iRiver H330.

Re:Really wish that they would support Ogg and oth (4, Informative)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566615)

but it also doesn't work on non-Intel machines since you can't recompile for your architecture.

That's really not much of an issue though since you can always wrap the binary codec in an x86 emulator or disassemble and reassemble for your architecture.

Re:Really wish that they would support Ogg and oth (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566719)

but it also doesn't work on non-Intel machines since you can't recompile for your architecture.

That's really not much of an issue though since you can always wrap the binary codec in an x86 emulator or disassemble and reassemble for your architecture.

Technically, maybe you can do this. The first may be the most workable option. However I have never heard of the second option having been done - if it had been done successfully it would certainly have been posted here on /. - and that means to me that it is so hard it's not worth it. Even for determined geeks with way too much time on their hands. The assembly instructions probably vary way too much over the various architectures.

Re:Really wish that they would support Ogg and oth (3, Interesting)

afidel (530433) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566779)

Huh, DEC's FX!32 did both in the 90's to allow NT4 x86 programs to be run and then dynamically recompiled for use on the Alpha port of NT. That's one piece of software I wished were opensourced, I think a lot could be learned from it. Of course not all of the IP in it may have belonged to DEC, but most of it did since they had the best compiler guys in the business at the time.

Re:Really wish that they would support Ogg and oth (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566891)

Huh, DEC's FX!32 did both in the 90's to allow NT4 x86 programs to be run and then dynamically recompiled for use on the Alpha port of NT.

We had that for VAX to Alpha conversion in OpenVMS as well, but it wasn't perfect. Some programs with a lot of low level bit manipulation would refuse to work on the alpha.

I suspect that an audio/video codec would be in that category.

Re:Really wish that they would support Ogg and oth (4, Insightful)

YaroMan86 (1180585) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566631)

WMA is just a codec, and plays just fine on my Ubuntu machine. I'm pretty sure there's nothing that MS can do to take that away from me (technically, at least). While this is generally true, WMA and WMVs both are excellent vectors for dreaded DRM setups. Note that not all WMAs and WMVs carry it, but I prefer to stick with a format that is never really DRM'd in the first place, even if I have the same song, for example, in a non-blocked format or encapsulation. But you are indeed right about all that in your post. I just prefer to go by formats not designed by a company already somewhat infamous for trying to control my computer usage. (Microsoft is big on DRM and Trusted Computing, both of which rape the end user in the long run.) This is one of the big reasons why I'll never touch Windows Media Player or iTunes with a long pole. I must give Apple credit, however. They've been making some progress by stripping some DRM from iTunes, but not enough for my tastes. Just my opinion. Take it or leave it.

Re:Really wish that they would support Ogg and oth (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566903)

While this is generally true, WMA and WMVs both are excellent vectors for dreaded DRM setups. Note that not all WMAs and WMVs carry it, but I prefer to stick with a format that is never really DRM'd in the first place, even if I have the same song, for example, in a non-blocked format or encapsulation. But you are indeed right about all that in your post. I just prefer to go by formats not designed by a company already somewhat infamous for trying to control my computer usage. (Microsoft is big on DRM and Trusted Computing, both of which rape the end user in the long run.)

I agree entirely, which is why I use Ogg Vorbis for all my music (on my portable too).

However, I just wanted to avoid any misconceptions that the previous poster's post may have generated, because while WMA is a good vector for DRM infection, not all WMAs have DRM, and people with the appropriate software can easily play DRM-free WMAs and WMVs on non-MS PCs with non-MS software. This can be important as some websites use WMA for things like internet radio.

Cool (5, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566725)

I'm usually a rabid MS-hater, but let's not spout FUD or falsehoods here. WMA is just a codec, and plays just fine on my Ubuntu machine. I'm pretty sure there's nothing that MS can do to take that away from me (technically, at least).

So, you are saying that we can start including WMA codec in all of linux's everywhere without any issues from any countries legal entities? And I as a developer of a commercial radio/TV/Stereo running linux will have absolutely NO issue getting a license from MS for a reasonable Price? What do you mean no. But you said that I was spouting falsehoods. Or are you STILL not grasping at how much MS controls on this issue?

Keep in mind that those who control MP3 have no issues with licensing on commercial Linux/BSD. But MS has other ideas in mind. This really is about freedom. And yes, my post stated that I prefer Ogg, but I will settle for MP3 for the reasons that I just stated. Hopefully, you will re-consider your statements

Re:Really wish that they would support Ogg and oth (1)

dosius (230542) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566793)

...hasn't libavcodec supported wma for aeons, so long as it's not DRM'd?

-uso.

so long as it's not DRM'd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21566967)

This is the key phrase. Think about it for a while.

Re:Really wish that they would support Ogg and oth (1)

Cal Paterson (881180) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566927)

Ogg Vorbis, however, is truly the best option, since 1) it has the best technical performance of any of them
I think the problem with Ogg Vorbis is that the technical performance on stereo music is not improved enough over LAME to make it worth using on a technical basis.

At the transparency levels of both (lame -V 2 --vbr new & oggenc -q 5), ogg vorbis ends up only being about a quarter smaller (I test on a cd copy of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture). This is a good technical feat, but it is far cheaper to make hard drives a a third bigger than it would be to displace mp3.

Re:Really wish that they would support Ogg and oth (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566997)

However, WMA does suffer from the familiar problem many other codecs do, in that it's binary-only AFAIK, so just like WMV

When I first read this I thought that you were suggesting something like XML to store your audio. What a great compression that would be!

Ogg Vorbis, however, is truly the best option

Technically yes, but in practice no. There is not enough support in players to make this a commercially viable format to use. I found that I had absolutely no sales when I used Ogg Vorbis to release my spoken word children's books written in Esperanto!

And when you think about it, Ogg Vorbis is the codec equivalent of Esperanto. Everyone can understand the reason to use it, but hardly anyone actually does. If you do use it, you will end up being incompatible with the rest of the world because they just found it easier to use the established codec/language.

Re:Really wish that they would support Ogg and oth (4, Insightful)

no_opinion (148098) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566663)

This is an interesting problem, because the companies have to choose between interoperability and customer choice. The *only* way to guarantee that a file will play on a digital music player is to sell it in MP3. One point of moving away from DRM is to end the format war. However, if an average consumer buys an AAC or OGG file and finds that it won't play on their MP3 player (car stereo, set-top-box, digital picture frame, whatever) they're going to be pissed and the format war will continue to rage on.

So I get the desire for Ogg, but to get to a market where format is not an issue, the music companies have to mandate MP3.

Just make players that work. (1, Interesting)

Erris (531066) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566797)

So I get the desire for Ogg, but to get to a market where format is not an issue, the music companies have to mandate MP3.

It costs nothing to add ogg decoders to hardware. Unlike mp3, ogg is patent, license and royalty free. My PDA does ogg and so does my better portable player. It's just software and this is not a technical problem, it's a monopoly problem [theregister.co.uk] .

Re:Just make players that work. (4, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566913)

It costs nothing to add ogg decoders to hardware. Unlike mp3, ogg is patent, license and royalty free. My PDA does ogg and so does my better portable player. It's just software and this is not a technical problem, it's a monopoly problem.
IIRC, it takes more CPU power to decode OGG files than to decode MP3s.
(I don't recall where WMA fits in all this)
Not all portable players have the CPU to decode OGG. So it's not just software.

http://gizmodo.com/archives/ogg-on-ipod-why-the-ipod-may-not-have-the-horsepower-for-ogg-015607.php [gizmodo.com]

Rockbox. (3, Informative)

Erris (531066) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566973)

IIRC, it takes more CPU power to decode OGG files than to decode MP3s.

My PDA does it, my tiny Trekstore does it, and so can your iPod [cnet.com] . This is NOT a technical issue.

Re:Just make players that work. (2, Insightful)

LordNimon (85072) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566935)

It costs nothing to add ogg decoders to hardware.

That is just not true. There are costs:

  • You have to pay your engineers to research and implement support. In fact, there may be a validated and certified MP3 implementation already available for your hardware, but not an OGG implementation.
  • You have to pay your lawyers to verify that it's patent- and royalty-free.
  • You may need to increase the amount of processing power or memory to handle the additional codec.
  • You'll need to perform additional testing to make sure OGG files actually work.
  • You'll need to account for additional support costs if the OGG support is broken but the MP3 support isn't.
  • You have to have your marketing department do extra research to determine if the additional sales of your media player because of OGG support cover the additional costs.
The fact that there are no licensing costs may be inconsequential compared to the costs of just adding the feature to the product.

Re:Just make players that work. (1)

no_opinion (148098) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566987)

Even though your statement is not true (see other child posts), that is not the point. The fact is that the majority of digital audio players on the market play mp3 but not ogg. So the problem is that there is an installed base of (millions of) players that can only be guaranteed to play MP3. If you want to solve the interoperability problem and avoid consumer confusion, the choice is clear.

Re:Really wish that they would support Ogg and oth (1)

TheNetAvenger (624455) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566703)

Ok, how?

A) WMA does have better audio quality than MP3, by a factor of 1.5 to 2 times. And this is a good thing as all decoding chips in portable music players all have WMA support, unless it is crippled like the iPod. So you can throw your songs in WMA at 64 or 128 and have almost twice the fidelity of an MP3, especially when you add in better variable bit rate support, etc.

B) WMA does not inherently use or need DRM, and MS themselves don't push DRM, so it is just as free to copy and decode as MP3. The only hitch with WMA is the binary dependancy like many other codecs have, but that is easily wrapped, and MS has provided non x86 WMA formats before as well, just not with DRM that providers have kept asking for with the exception of I64 and AMD/EMT64 that have DRM WMA support. (Besides how many of us are really using non x86/64 architectures?)

Remember Gates said that DRM should be taken off audio downloads in Dec last year before Jobs did in January. He said specifically until the providers stop limiting access to downloaded music that people should just buy CDs if possible to force them to move to a DRM free online model. (And this is right after Zune 1.0 came out.)

Re:Really wish that they would support Ogg and oth (3, Insightful)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566851)

A) WMA does have better audio quality than MP3, by a factor of 1.5 to 2 times. And this is a good thing as all decoding chips in portable music players all have WMA support, unless it is crippled like the iPod. So you can throw your songs in WMA at 64 or 128 and have almost twice the fidelity of an MP3, especially when you add in better variable bit rate support, etc.

Proof please? I've never seen this substantiated. Also, how do you quantify "better audio quality" numerically?

Re:Really wish that they would support Ogg and oth (1)

Cal Paterson (881180) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566965)

A) WMA does have better audio quality than MP3, by a factor of 1.5 to 2 times. And this is a good thing as all decoding chips in portable music players all have WMA support, unless it is crippled like the iPod. So you can throw your songs in WMA at 64 or 128 and have almost twice the fidelity of an MP3, especially when you add in better variable bit rate support, etc.
WMA only performs well at extremely low bit rates (we're talking sub 128kb/s here), and by that time, you've already thrown away all chance of a good quality reproduction of the cd. Performance of WMA at higher bitrates is poor in comparision with lame or vorbis (as soon as you pass 128kb/s, WMA turns to shit). Additionally, I don't know what you're referring to by "better variable bitrate support"; can you name a player, hardware or software, that is unable to play lame vbr?

Ogg is Still Under the M$ Thumb. (-1, Troll)

Erris (531066) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566763)

We are all still paying the price for M$'s blatant and court proved attack on ogg [theregister.co.uk] . When portable music makers were starting to use ogg because it's better and free in every way, M$ put forth their best threats and incentives. Because they dumped the old restrictions system to push Zune [slashdot.org] , both makers and vendors can see what the incentive was worth. MP3 gets around M$ problems like that. In the mean time, there are hardly any players on the market that work with ogg and you won't find them at Walmart or any of the other big box stores. This too will change.

Re:Really wish that they would support Ogg and oth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21566799)

I'm tired of reading this comment every time MP3 is mentioned.

MP3 is vastly superior to Ogg in the most critical category: Portability.

I don't have a single device in my house that can play Ogg. Looking over the Amazon top ten list, I see I'm not alone.

Re:Really wish that they would support Ogg and oth (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566879)

Do you own any 8 tracks tapes? Can you play them? Have any OLD computer equipment? Can you use it? How much of it can not? A lot. Perhaps you own an apple? Do you use their office package? Have you tried to move the data out from it? Have any old disks that were compressed with stacker? Can you access the data? How about accessing that CPM disk using windows?

Look, MP3 is popular, But like all else, it WILL go away. The closed proprietary things will not last. Mp3 is NOT the most portable. It is simple the most widespread AT THIS TIME. Ogg, or some other open format, will most likely become widespread.

Re:Really wish that they would support Ogg and oth (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566939)

MP3 is vastly superior to Ogg in the most critical category: Portability.

I don't have a single device in my house that can play Ogg. Looking over the Amazon top ten list, I see I'm not alone.


Maybe you should have been a little smarter in selecting your devices.

Re:Really wish that they would support Ogg and oth (1)

heatdeath (217147) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566859)

But MP3 is superior to WMA

Only WMA with licensing. WMA without music licensing is far better in terms of compression and quality. It even has lossless encoding for the ogg fanboys out there. =P

SLASHDOT SUX0RZ (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21566455)

_0_
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.|!|
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goatse still gathering momentum [goatse.ch]

MP3 (1)

mqduck (232646) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566469)

By "MP3", do they mean "post-MP3 lossless audio codecs"? Because I'm pretty sure MP3 has been going downhill ever so slightly for a while now.

Re:MP3 (1)

mqduck (232646) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566485)

God, I meant "post-MP3 LOSSY audio codecs". Today is not my day.

Re:MP3 (2, Interesting)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566547)

you did have a point though, considering that we have FLAC which is free as in libre *and* loss-less why use MP3?

Re:MP3 (4, Informative)

404notfound (467950) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566803)

FLACs are huge.

Re:MP3 (1)

Josh Coalson (538042) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566887)

The meaning of "huge" changes pretty fast in this industry. The size difference between 128kbps MP3 and FLAC is 2x-8x. How long did it take for ipods to increase capacity by 2x-8x?

Re:MP3 (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566971)

and relatively unknown. MP3's have been shared online and burned to cd's for quite a number of years now.

and just like the cd and dvd, the format is good enough for most consumers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Audio_CD [wikipedia.org] has yet to get any mindshare from the consumers.

the format war on the video side we can all see in the tech news on a daily basis.

thing is this, cd and dvd could may well be the last physical formats out there for audio and video.
these days, with growing ever present internet access and new and continually improving codec formats, the physical media is dying.

i suspect that microsoft (and maybe also sony, given the ps3) have seen this, given their push of xbox360 that can interface with a windows pc to grab media, can order up media online, and with home server, the user can have vast amounts of storage in a closet.

hell, didnt the xbox360 recently gain, or was announced to gain, divx support?

i would say that consumers have voted.

and that to me say this:

new ways to finance production and distribution of media/content of all kinds need to be found.

the old media giants/dino's are dying out because they cant adapt, and their habitat is slowly eroding away.

the net have changed mail order, it has changed banking, it have changed how we interact with service providers. it has changed many things on many levels, by basically expanding the abilities of the phone, itself a extension of the telegraph, a device that enabled world spanning empires to exist. why should it not change, and continue to change, how me consume, distribute and create content of all kinds?

with my flat rate, always on connection, i have hardly watched tv or listened to over the air radio the last couple of months. when (not if, as it will come. only question is time) we get the same for mobile devices, where you can have it running a background connection 24/7 to stream audio, video, text and whatsnot to you anywhere you are, the next shift comes.

at that point one could claim to have the net in our brain, even if it requires external devices. we will be wearing them all the time we are awake. im, phone calls (with video of the user, what the user see, or both), mail, it will all merge into one unified service.

Re:MP3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21566875)

FLAC lacks branding.
The name does not instantly remind me of listening to music.

Call it 'MPLossless' or 'MP-Ultra' or 'MP-HiQ'. Big letters in the store and on the box 'NOW INCLUDES MP-ULTRA!'.

Re:MP3 (1)

abshnasko (981657) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566905)

Why? Because not all of us have 600 kajillobyte hard drives to store songs at 25-35MB a piece. People would rather have a 5MB song that, let's be serious, sounds just as good.

Re:MP3 (5, Insightful)

Cadallin (863437) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566511)

Unfortunately, No, the mean straight mp3s. Because mp3s are now like .doc files apparently. Even though there are alternatives that are superior, and yes, cheaper, people still want mp3s the way they want Microsoft Office.

Re:MP3 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21566545)

But Microsoft Office is superior to competition, where as MP3 is not.

Re:MP3 (2, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566605)

But Microsoft Office is superior to competition, where as MP3 is not.

No, it's not. OpenOffice is freely downloadable, and does everything almost anyone needs in an office suite. MS Office may be preferred by some (mostly due to brand loyalty most likely), but it definitely doesn't do anything extra that makes it worth $500 more than OO.

BTW, I'm assuming you mean "superior" in a general sense, where all features (including price) are taken into consideration. A Ferrari is a superior car to a Civic only if you have an unlimited budget, for instance. If your income is $40k, a Ferrari is not a superior choice.

Re:MP3 (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566685)

Actually other than gas mileage/passenger space as a criteria the ferrari is a superior car, just like MS Office is a superior office suite, however if you ask which are the better value (assigning a cost of $0.01 to OOo to avoid Div0 errors) then clearly the Civic and OOo are vastly better values.
-nB

Re:MP3 (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566865)

I prefer MS Office because the spreadsheet in OpenOffice is a toy by comparison. The wordprocessor is superior to Word. and I don't have much experience with the Access or Powerpoint equivalent. I don't use those much in Office either. But there's definitely no tool that I've seen in the open source world to compare with Visio (a production MS bought).

Re:MP3 (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566623)

Aren't most digital music files sold as AAC?

Re:MP3 (1)

l3prador (700532) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566643)

Unfortunately, No, the mean straight mp3s. Because mp3s are now like .doc files apparently. Even though there are alternatives that are superior, and yes, cheaper, people still want mp3s the way they want Microsoft Office.
Mmm. Not exactly. By this point, everything from DVD players to cell phones to car stereos to Barbie Dolls have MP3 support implemented in hardware, or at least implemented in someway that is not easily modified. This is not as simple as installing OpenOffice.org on your computer. The MP3 format is going to be around for a long time, and even when other formats gain footholds, it will still be necessary for many devices to transcode back into MP3.

Re:MP3 (5, Insightful)

dgr73 (1055610) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566981)

Ahem, seems like a short history lesson is in order.. *Pulls out a slide rule and a stern expression*..

MP3 has several things on it's side that have been successful for other products in historical situations:

1. all things being equal, the sexier sounding name wins. And "empeethree" has a simplistic, yet technical sound to it. Whereas AAC and WMA can be thrown right out the window. Ogg has some appeal, but nowhere near the sexiness of mp3.

2. Recognition.. whenever a brand has become synonymous with the whole technology they have had the advantage of immediate recognition, this is a major marketing advantage (free publicity anyone?). A lot of who use WMA will still talk about their "MP3 songs".

3. Now.. as to being "inferior" technically. You need only to look at things like DC and AC, VHS and Betamax or Amiga and PC (oh boy, am I gonna get it for that last one) to see that the technically superior solution is not always the one that ends up on top.

However, while the wide proliferation of MP3 *SEEMS* to guarantee it's future based on similar historical events, there is always one historical factor that could change it all: A new technology that offers a decisive advantage over MP3 and manages to capture a fanatical core fanbase. Such pieces of technology have many times overtaken rivals with near total market dominance (does anyone remember Atari, 3Dfx, or Altavista?).

But until something earthshattering comes forth, I see cool runnings for the old, venerable, MP3.

So 1999 (1)

PachmanP (881352) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566477)

Seriously, mp3's are so last year. Why can't we have something that has better audio quality for similar size. Maybe even lossless!

Re:So 1999 (3, Insightful)

ConanG (699649) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566805)

Because the audio quality is good enough for the vast majority of people and file size isn't an issue for most people, either. There's just no compelling reason to force an entire industry to move to a better format. MP3 is not a broken format. There is no good reason to replace it.

Re:So 1999 (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566807)

Seriously, Windows are so 1985. Why can't we have something that has better functionality for similar size. Maybe even without a keyboard or mouse!

It works for both examples because A) The format has been around for years and is widely recognized, and B) There have been constant improvements made. EAC/LAME was pretty much the standard (arguably still) for many years.

Re:So 1999 (1)

jocknerd (29758) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566885)

Yes, its called AAC.

good news (2, Funny)

javilon (99157) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566479)

die .wma die a horrible drm'd death!!!

Re:good news (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566923)

die .wma die a horrible drm'd death!!!

Cancel or Allow?

Still won't pay for music (3, Insightful)

Invisibleh8 (1197909) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566497)

There is nothing they are going to do that convinces me sound isn't free. I have been to over 75 concerts if they want my money I am more than willing to pay to see a band worth it.

Re:Still won't pay for music (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566955)

The music industry doesn't want you to have digital music. Period. But if they have to relent, they'd rather give you content that they can make "go bad" every ten years, so you have to re-purchase it. Otherwise they feel they are losing out on the record to 8-track, 8-track to cassette, cassette to CD, CD to digital money.

How is the music industry supposed to survive if they can't rely on every person buying the same music six or seven times over the period of their life?

Re:Still won't pay for music (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21566983)

You won't pay to hear a band but you'll pay to see them? Have you ever tried going to the movies or watching television? I think you may be using the wrong forms of entertainment for your personal desires.

Seriously, though, as someone with many friends in bands: You're an asshole if you're not willing to pay a band for the entertainment they've provided you with their recordings. I guess if you only ever listen to the 75 bands you've seen, and only for a limited time after you've paid to see their show, then I could maybe understand your logic to the point of thinking you're only misguided. I'm guessing, though, that you're just a cheap-ass scumsucker who uses the RIAA as a bogeyman to support your lack of ethics.

Although a side issue, you also probably have little appreciation for the art involved in audio recordings. That would be a sad life, IMO.

No big surprise (5, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566507)

For a number of reasons:

1) MP3 was the first. It wasn't the first compressed music format, not by a long shot. Hell after PCM was designed as a method for storing audio I'm sure probably the next day someone came up with ADPCM. However it was the first one any normal person had ever heard of. Prior to MP3, compressed music just wasn't something a normal person was aware of. There was CDs, or older formats. Well being the first gets it some staying power. It has the biggest name, the most recognition, etc.

2) MP3 implies no DRM. While I'm sure DRM can be hacked on top of it, as with anything, the format itself isn't set up for DRM. It was also what was widely used in free programs like Napster. Thus it doesn't have a DRM rep. The newer formats, though not mandating DRM, seem to support it and people have gotten burned. I've talked to more than a couple people who've bought music and then discovered they couldn't get it on to some device they wanted. MP3 doesn't have that problem.

3) Because it is so old, MP3 is widely supported. Everything plays MP3s. If I want to play music on my DVD player, MP3 is the format to use. It doesn't support AAC or WMA. Same thing with portables. What additional formats they support is hit and miss, but they -all- do MP3. Hence you get music in MP3 format, you never worry about "Will it play?"

4) Because it is "Good enough." There is no question, the new formats are way better at compression, especially at lower bitrates. That's nice, but people don't give a shit. MP3 is good enough. Most people would call MP3 @ 128k CD quality, because on their equipment, it sounds like it is. @ 192k it is getting hard to tell without good gear. @ 256k, even pros on good gear under double blind tests can't pick it out reliably for normal music. As such people just don't really care about the gains. Sure, AAC is better per bit. However if people already consider their music "perfect" then why do they care?

As such there just isn't a compelling reason for most people to move off of MP3. I am not at all surprised that many people actively seek it out over newer formats. Technical arguments about perceptual encoding are lost on them. All they want is music they can listen to on everything without hassle, and MP3 is that.

Re:No big surprise (5, Insightful)

evilgrug (915703) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566577)

5) Despite the fact that the MP3 technology is over a decade old, encoders are still getting better. You only have to look at the progress LAME has made (particularly the 3.90 and 3.97 'milestone' releases) in not just surpassing the quality of other once-popular MP3 encoders such as Fraunhofer and Xing but in some more recent listening tests even equalling its successor [listening-tests.info] , at ~128kbps VBR, let alone the more high quality VBR presets (V0/V2) that many people rip in and that most pirated releases are released in via the scene.

Re:No big surprise (1)

dhavleak (912889) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566809)

All very valid reasons. It looks like businesses are getting the message too (however slowly). Amazon and Walmart are definitely helping the cause by selling tracks in MP3 format. Even on the Zune marketplace, tracks that are available in non-DRMed mode are in MP3 format instead of WMA. Hopefully non-DRMed tracks will be mp3 instead of AAC on iTunes soon. Once that happens, and more labels get on board with selling their tracks DRM-free, the mp3 player market will finally be open to competition!

5) M$. (4, Informative)

Erris (531066) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566839)

A Court proved anti-trust violation [theregister.co.uk] is the primary reason you can't find cheap multiformat players, specifically players that work with ogg.

6) Nope (2, Insightful)

willyhill (965620) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566957)

Since that never actually came to pass, your theory that "M$" is somehow responsible for the lack of Ogg support in media players (as opposed to, say, the sheer inertia of MP3) is somehow hard to believe, no matter how many times you post [slashdot.org] the same [slashdot.org] thing [slashdot.org] in the same article.

Repetition does not engender truth.

DRM, ogg, CDs, fair use, licenses (4, Informative)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566513)

I guess this can be taken as good news, since the alternative was presumably some DRM'd format.

On the other hand, mp3 is still patent-encumbered [wikipedia.org] , and in fact the patent situation is such a mess that nobody even knows for sure when the last patent will expire. You can get a royalty-free license to use a decoder, or to use an encoder for noncommercial use, but ...

The lack of support for open audio and video codecs is a real problem now, because essentially flash is shaping up to be a completely necessary part of people's ability to do things with their computers, and one of the many ways that adobe is keeping flash proprietary is that they only support proprietary audio and video codecs for flash. Now matter how much java applets may have sucked in various ways, at least the technology was always free as in beer (and is now becoming free as in speech).

Even though buying music downloads in a DRM-free format like mp3 is a step up from buying them in a DRM'd format, there are still a lot of issues. You may have to agree to a license that forbids you from reselling the music, and takes away your fair use rights as well.

Personally, what works for me is buying CDs. There's no DRM, and no license. I can resell them. I don't need to back them up, because the disks *are* the backup. If I feel like it, I can copy them onto my mp3 player for personal use, and it's legal. If I feel like it, I can copy them onto my computer's hard disk, and put the actual optical disks somewhere else as backups. The only reason I'd really be interested in buying music digitally would be in cases where the music is out of print. Why buy it as a download, when my very first act after downloading it would be to burn it onto a CD as a backup?

Re:DRM, ogg, CDs, fair use, licenses (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566575)

Why buy it as a download, when my very first act after downloading it would be to burn it onto a CD as a backup?
To create custom CDs from many artists/albums without having to pay for all of the extra songs you won't use.

Re:DRM, ogg, CDs, fair use, licenses (0, Flamebait)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566653)

There's a simle solution to this: develop some good taste in music, so that you don't listen to artists who mix crappy songs with what you perceive to be "good" songs. If the band can't make a whole album of good songs, then they can't be very good. I can understand one not-so-great song in the mix, but all but one or two songs being bad? Sorry, you just have bad taste in music then.

Re:DRM, ogg, CDs, fair use, licenses (1)

hondo77 (324058) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566707)

One could argue that someone who likes all the cuts on all the albums they buy either doesn't buy much music or has low standards.

Re:DRM, ogg, CDs, fair use, licenses (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566749)

Sorry, you just have bad taste in music then.
No taste, actually. The only "music" I listen to is background themes in Starcraft.

Re:DRM, ogg, CDs, fair use, licenses (1)

Mesa MIke (1193721) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566795)

> ... one of the many ways that adobe is keeping flash proprietary
> is that they only support proprietary audio and video codecs for flash.

Are you sure?
It seems like when I upgraded to the latest version of flash last time, it made itself the MP3 player for my web browser. Damn Flash!

Re:DRM, ogg, CDs, fair use, licenses (1)

jeffbax (905041) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566821)

Perhaps for the same reason that I use emusic.

1) Its cheaper, about $.20 per track with good quality
2) Its instant... can't get a CD on demand without either driving to get it or waiting for shipping
3) I can re-download the tracks any time I want as many times as I want

Although #3 has failed, when the label pulls their artists from emusic (such as happened with Catch 22) I can no longer re-download them even though I did purchase them.

Overall, I've been happy enough to deal with the small shortcomings, though I still do buy many CDs, unless its my favorite bands ever when I can get them from emusic I do so to save money.

SLAHSODOT SUXO0RZZ (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21566521)

GOADSZEKS the reral one001

wish it was a lossless format (1)

markjhood2003 (779923) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566525)

It's too bad that open lossless formats haven't seen the kind of uptake with consumers as MP3. On the other hand, it's probably impossible to encumber MP3 with DRM without breaking compatibility, so overall it's a positive I think. As much as I would prefer lossless encoding, I can't tell the difference between music encoded with `lame --preset extreme' and lossless. I sure hope these distributors decide to go beyond the standard 128kb CBR for their downloadable products.

Re:wish it was a lossless format (1)

adona1 (1078711) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566579)

I understand why some people only want lossless formats, but to me and a lot of people I know it's really a non-issue. Anything at 192kbs sounds pretty good, and most torrents are ripped at 320kbs - only a matter of time (I hope) before the retailers start offering what the market wants *I kid, I kid*.

However, with 20 of the top 25 mp3 players on Amazon's mp3 bestsellers [amazon.com] having a capacity of under 20gb (and most under 5gb), lossless encoding isn't an issue as much as space. Most people would prefer to have more songs on their player rather than higher fidelity.

Re:wish it was a lossless format (1)

Vegeta99 (219501) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566861)

Ah, but sir! Windows Media Player, the lowest-common-denominator media player on the market, can be told to re-encode files to a lower bit rate when syncing to an "MTP Device". IIRC, -- I used to use it to put MP3s on my cell phone -- you can pick the bitrate you want to be stored on the device.

Re:wish it was a lossless format (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21566613)

eMusic uses VBR at an average 192kbps. Basically the default LAME settings.

Strange. (0, Offtopic)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566529)

I thought Slashdot had an article, years ago stating MP3 was dying as other formats were gaining favour. Guess that was another speculator who liked to see his/her name in the news.

Classics MP3s (5, Informative)

Lars T. (470328) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566555)

Deutsche Grammophon have just opened their huge catalogue of Clasical Music and are now selling them as 320 kbps MP3s here [deutschegrammophon.com] .

nitpick (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21566563)

If they're going to start making digital files why not AAC? I thought AAC gets slightly better fidelity for an equivalent bitrate.

ipods can play both mp3 and aac [m4a]. And most other audio players are capable of it as well.

That said, mp3 will do fine provided they up the bitrate. either cbr ~256 or vbr ~200 at a min. I DEMAND QUALITY

Re:nitpick (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566677)

If they're going to start making digital files why not AAC? I thought AAC gets slightly better fidelity for an equivalent bitrate.

Because AAC means DRM. Yes, you and I know that AAC files aren't necessarily DRMed, but non-technical people have been conditioned through experience to make this association. Everyone knows that MP3 files have no DRM, and they can copy them however much they want, so it's a safe choice.

That said, mp3 will do fine provided they up the bitrate. either cbr ~256 or vbr ~200 at a min. I DEMAND QUALITY

You may demand quality, but 98% of music listeners don't give a rat's ass about quality, as long as it sounds vaguely like the singer they think it is.

How Ironic (2, Insightful)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566611)

I figured that the reason Walmart was dumping WMA was that it won't play on iPods. According to TFA that seems to be the case.

Apple has their own proprietary format called AAC; iTunes Music Store downloads are in AAC format, some of them DRMed but some not. In the battle for the hearts and minds of music fans, Microsoft will never support AAC, and Apple will never support WMA. So MP3 is left as the common denominator.

(AAC isn't as proprietary as WMA in that the file format is publicly documented, but it is patent-encumbered so that Free Software implementations such as faad and faac are illegal in countries like the US that recognize software patents. Unlike MP3, there is no free license for decoders, one has to pay for a patent license for them.)

I can imagine that Walmart.com's tech support has gotten pretty sick of fielding complaints that their downloads don't work on iPods...

Re:How Ironic (2, Informative)

mckniffen (983873) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566761)

Apple has their own proprietary format called AAC
What an insensitive clod!

AAC is not Apple Proprietary, it is in fact License and Royalty Free and a superior Codec. Hence the reason that it is pushed as MP3's successor.

MP3's limitations lie in the fact that it is a Royalty Ridden Audio Codec. Mean using MP3 for commercial use requires an fee, not exorbitant by any means, but enough to throw off your local recording/production studio to a superior format.

If the only reason why MP3 is used is because is just plays on 'everything' then why do I have to manually (PacMan) install an MP3 decoder library every time I install Linux on a computer?

Because you are all bigots and lack the mental capacity to think outside of the electronics that you own.

Re:How Ironic (2, Informative)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566977)

AAC is not Apple Proprietary, it is in fact License and Royalty Free and a superior Codec. Hence the reason that it is pushed as MP3's successor.

That is also incorrect. T.T

From Daring Fireball [daringfireball.net] :
"For up to 400,000 units per year, AAC playback costs $1.00 per unit; for more than 400,000 units per year, the price drops to $0.74 per unit."

I've always been under the understanding that the only truly free codec is OGG.

I think Fraunhofer pushed AAC as being MP3's successor partially because, at the time, the music labels were looking for someone to blame for music piracy, and they were looking in Fraunhofer's direction since they had invented MP3 but did not include any sort of DRM from the get-go. They wanted the pirates to move off their format to take the heat way.

Re:How Ironic (1)

packslash (788926) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566767)

"Apple has their own proprietary format called AAC"

AAC was created by the mpeg organization the same ppl that came up with mp3, not Apple.

Re:How Ironic (4, Informative)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566819)

Apple has their own proprietary format called AAC;

AAC is not an Apple proprietary format.

I believe the only reason this idea ever began is because the iPod was one of the first commercial products to support it, and at the time it was a relatively new format, so to laymen the only thing that could play AAC was an iPod. Since they never bothered to find out what AAC stood for, they decided it must be "Apple Audio Codec" since that fit their pre-conceived idea it was an Apple-only format.

AAC was developed by Dolby labs if I remember right, and many other portable music players support it now, including Sony's newer digital music players and some cell phones.

Re:How Ironic (3, Interesting)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566949)

1. AAC is not Apple proprietary, nor was it developed, subsidized or (parent company) purchased by Apple. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Audio_Coding [wikipedia.org]

2. "Microsoft will never support AAC..." - except, it seems that they already do. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zune [wikipedia.org] (not to mention Windows Mobile....)

3. The faad and faac are illegal in the US - try http://www.audiocoding.com/ [audiocoding.com] - source is there, not binaries (see Wiki, again) and then also try to tell me what is the issue? Are you trying to suggest that there is nothing available for free on Linux / other that plays AAC files - legally? How about VLC? The world doesn't begin and end at the FSF - although the FSF is really, really fab, it's not the world. If anything in media playback is the word, it's VLC - but that's just me.....

Otherwise, your idea of Walmart dropping WMA because it is proprietary and won't play on iPods is probably quite true - I think that was the insightful part.

This is a strange feeling.... (2, Funny)

8127972 (73495) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566627)

.... as I actually find myself cheering for the evil WalMart empire who doesn't seem so evil at the moment.

My mind is going. I can feel it.

Funny how (0, Troll)

SamP2 (1097897) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566629)

The same people who bash the MP3 format in every possible reasonable and unreasonable way when it is compared to .ogg or similar "free culture" formats, also unconditionally praise it when it is pitted against the evil M$s WMA or other DRM. Which is fine when the qualities discussed are precisely freedom-related, but when people 180 their views of objective technical qualities depending on who the adversary is, that is just plain hypocritical.

So is MP3 good or evil? Make up your mind already.

Re:Funny how (1)

nuzak (959558) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566673)

> So is MP3 good or evil? Make up your mind already.

Some of us have brains large enough to comprehend that it perhaps lies in the middle of a continuum.

Re:Funny how (4, Insightful)

Vegeta99 (219501) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566817)

At times it may be necessary temporarily to accept a lesser evil, but one must never label a necessary evil as good. -- Margaret Meade

Re:Funny how (1)

frieko (855745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566699)

Perhaps the universe isn't black and white, and MP3 is the middle ground between .ogg and DRM.

Re:Funny how (2, Insightful)

Bob The Cowboy (308954) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566713)

How 'bout better than completely-closed-and-would-like-to-be-platform-locked-codec?

I love ogg, and I hope it becomes the eventual de facto standard... but if someone chooses mp3 over wma/aac, well, I'm not going to spit on them.

ogg > mp3 > aac >= wma

In other words, the world (and moral values included therein) does not exist in a binary state. Things are not simply Good or Evil. Thanks for your troll though.

Bill

damn you ... (1)

ianare (1132971) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566789)

you beat me to it!

Re:Funny how (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21566721)

You're doing the stereotypical geek black & white thinking thing, where things are either GOOD or BAD and nothing lies in between.

You might like the taste of a fresh home made meal over a reheated pizza slice that's been sitting in a servery for six hours drying out... but you'd still rather eat the pizza slice than start chewing on a dog shit off the sidewalk that's been vomited on by six drunks.

See. The world's not black & white. Reality is complex - unlike ones and zeroes.

Re:Funny how (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566857)

You're doing the stereotypical geek black & white thinking thing
Actually, it is the geek 1 & 0 thinking thing.

Evil explained (1)

ianare (1132971) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566771)

most evil ---> least evil

wma --> aac --> mp3 --> ogg

Does this clear things up for you?

Is it sad... (1)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566843)

... that when I saw the title, the first question I had is "well how are they quantifying momentum? Is the MP3 format going much slower than the speed of light or do they have to include a Lorentz factor? It the MP3 format actually traveling faster or did it just have a large thanksgiving dinner with lost of leftovers?"

Tipping Point? (2, Insightful)

John Sokol (109591) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566889)


  Wouldn't there have to be something else to be tipping away from first?

  I mean since 1996 MP3 has been it. Period. Where was nothing before it.

    All compressed audio formats that came before either sounded like crap or were some secret sauce, that was closed source close specs, that you had to pay $50,000+ for and had to program windows library's to use.
  Yes AAC came out in 1997 and it's actually better then MP3 in almost all measures, but there still isn't any decent application to use it.

 
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