I’ll Bet He’s Wrong About That


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  Originally uploaded by n8foo.

From the New York Times story on MySpace Music today:

“The majors aren’t going to distribute music unprotected on MP3,” said David Card, a senior analyst at Jupiter Research.

David’s a smart guy and generally right about stuff, but I’ll bet him a years worth of music on eMusic that within 24 months at least one of the four majors will do a deal with some service that sells music in non DRM’d mp3 format.

Why am I so sure of this?

Because while mp3 is a pretty crappy format quality wise and it doesn’t support rights management, it’s the standard format for digital music. I can’t think of a digital music player that won’t play mp3s. I can’t think of a music software that won’t play mp3s. Portable game players like PSP play mp3s. You can post mp3s to the web and play them easily. Services like last.fm and others can track your music listening habits if you listen to mp3s. You can import mp3s into GarageBand, QuickTime, and most other audio and video software packages.

There are many standards that aren’t the best. I remember when IBM argued that SNA was better than TCP/IP. Maybe it was, but TCP/IP became the standard and that’s what everyone uses now. I remember when IBM argued that TokenRing was better than Ethernet. Maybe it was, but Ethernet became the standard and that’s what everyone uses now. Plenty of people have argued that RSS is not robust enough to be the content syndication standard, but robustness doesn’t win over pervasiveness. RSS has won. It’s a standard.

And so is mp3. And you can’t fight standards. Apple can promote its fairplay based AAC format (m4p). Microsoft can promote its PlayForSure WMA format. But they are going to lose. mp3 is the standard and it’s only getting stronger every day.

MySpace gets that. Artists get that. Bloggers get that. And soon the labels will too. And once we’ve got everyone embracing an open interoperable standard, good things can start happening.