Dubbed 'MusicDNA', it is backed by Fraunhofer IDMT, the developers of MP3, and preaches integrated multimedia content as the key hook. What this means is, much like iTunes LP, MusicDNA files will contain artist information, lyrics and sleeve notes, concert dates and even merchandising links and live blog posts or tweets from the artist. This is because, unlike iTunes LP, MusicDNA content will be dynamic so it will keep updating via the Internet.
"Out of a rusted old VW Beetle we are making a Ferrari," claimed Bach Technology CEO Stefan Kohlmeyer, who heads up the team behind the new format. "We are taking an existing idea, giving the end user a lot more and making that file much more valuable – like transforming a tiny house into a huge villa... At the moment there is no real incentive to buy a legal file. If we concentrate on making the legal file, we can help the entire music industry."
Kohlmeyer confirmed that pirate copies of MusicDNA files would have static multimedia content from the moment they were duplicated. Beta launches will be in the spring.
In theory it is a clever idea, but by no means a lone voice. CMX and MXP4 are rival multimedia inclusive audio formats also in development and the potential for yet another unwelcome format war could be on the horizon. Then again, will anyone care? I'd argue the majority of people buy music for the music not the extras and MP3 remains ubiquitous, compact and - while purists may moan - can be encoded up to a high enough quality to fool virtually anyone... including us.