Technology Becomes Us

Futuristic computer interface

“We have nothing, if not belief.” said C.S. Lewis. And that much is true– we cannot create brand new technologies if they weren’t imagined in the first place. But as technology integrates almost seamlessly with our lives, as is already evident with social networking, it becomes harder to imagine what else we can rely on technology for, since we already rely on so much.

Can there be a moment in time where technologies aren’t born, but just age?

I imagine a world where technology isn’t looked at under a microscope, because so much of it will be in open source formats, available to everyone to work together to make incredible things to change the world.

And then imagine a world where market research is instantaneous. Advertising is no longer a guessing game– companies deeply know their audience due to social media technology being integrated into almost every aspect of our life.

Companies such as Facebook move to the top of the Fortune 500 because personal information becomes the hottest commodity in the world.

We will communicate digitally almost not differently then how we do in person. Strengthened mobile devices would allow for a deeper conversational experience with our friends and family.

The “DIY” attitude created by social media for musicians will have even more strength, because social media will allow us to strengthen creative communities and will allow different creative minded people to collaborate on bigger projects in real time.

Musicians will have more and more power to entertain thanks to popular advancements in projection technology, three dimensional environments, and other technological advancements that bring their concerts to life.

It is enjoyable to imagine a world where technology allows us to look at the world with an increased amount of depth and understanding. Where the technologies we invent and utilize on a daily basis become as smart as us.

Or become us.


The current and future state of mobile technology is a great place for us to begin looking at our dependance of technology. As our mobile phones become labeled as “smart” and are valued for their speed and productivity, we begin to be more in tune with our mobile devices and allow their powers to connect us further with social media and various technologies that our laptops and personal computers once had the sole ability to access.

3D Projection Concept Phone

3D Projection Concept Mobile Phone

Which makes me think– is “smart phone” even the proper term for what we are using? If we can do everything from purchase stock, play games, and engage in social networking, does that not make phone calls themselves just another app? Just another feature?

Smart phones such as Apple’s iPhones are currently quite physically demanding— their battery life shortens with age quite quickly, and their processors aren’t terribly powerful by today’s personal computer standards.

Anthony Townsend, a research director at the Institute for the Future states, “Companies like Intel have focused on putting more transistors on a chip and making their products more powerful…It takes a while to turn a ship like that around.”

If processors can become even smaller, mobile devices and applications will be even more powerful, and combined with strong broadband connections, and improved wireless features, these devices can be embedded into clothing, other devices, even ourselves.

Molar Cell Phone Implant

At the Royal College of Art in London, researchers developed the first cell-phone implant, which consisted of a cell phone receiver in the user’s ear, and a transducer, which transferred speech, through a molar and jaw in the user’s mouth. The transducer would cause the tooth to vibrate, sending an electrical impulse through the jawbone and into the receiver in the ear.

Did it work? Sort of.

The technology was expensive to create, expensive to implant, and only had the feature to transfer speech. It couldn’t fulfill any of the high demands that modern media consumers have for their phones.

“…combined, the circuit board, its components and the battery make up about half of the phone’s bulk. The rest comes from the screen, the keys and the outer plastic case. Since an implant has to be much smaller than a traditional cell phone, a good first step in making one is getting rid of these three elements. For this reason, a cell-phone implant does not have a typical user interface (UI). It uses the person’s body instead.” Tracy V. Wilson,

It is an exciting future for technology knowing that not only will we have all this power at our fingertips, but possibly in our fingertips.


Since the introduction of the iTunes Music Store, legal, electronic song downloading has become the most widely purchased medium of music and will likely have a long shelf life considering there is no hardware that is needed other than a personal computer or mp3 player to consume this media.

Singles have made their return, and millions of songs are being sold individually, allowing traditional radio listeners who prefer singles over entire albums an opportunity to purchase just the songs they enjoy. It also allows customers who may like only a few particular songs from an artist purchase just those that they enjoy instead of the entire album. As a result an album release isn’t as much of a major event for an artist, and instead musicians have to work harder to create a strong fan base and create a community with their fans.

“Most agree that the currency of exchange for recorded music will be the attention of the fans instead of their money. If an artist can get attention they will be able to sell tickets to their shows, license songs to soundtracks and get money for endorsing products. The labels held the key to getting access to big opportunities but now the artists and their managers have to find other avenues.” Mike McCready, CEO Platinum Blue / Music Xray

Home recording studio

The improvement of home recording technologies have allowed more independent artists to produce their own music from the comfort of their home studios, making the only cost (other than the cost of the home studio software/hardware) the time the artist puts into their work.

With free, popular music and video communicates such as YouTube, users have free access to potentially millions of views, as long as the right eyes see and share the content that is uploaded. As we have seen in the past twenty years, everything from dancing babies, to lip syncing videos, and rough car crashes have popularized YouTube, turning home movies into blockbusters.

And where is YouTube headed?

Chad Hurley

Chad Hurley, co-founder of YouTube

Our goal is to allow every person on the planet to participate by making the upload process as simple as placing a phone call. This new video content will be available on any screen – in your your living room, or on your device in your pocket. YouTube and other sites will bring together all the diverse media which matters to you, from videos of family and friends to news, music, sports, cooking and much, much more. – Chad Hurley, YouTube co-founder


As a content creator and as a student of media technologies, it brings me happiness that new technologies are making it easier for individuals to create loads of content to splash all over the web or in any medium that they see fit. What I am fearful of however, is an attitude that just because someone has access to said technologies that they are able to create content that is well produced.

Advancements in social media and multimedia recording software make it easier for everyday people all over the world to share their world views, their talents, and their voice.

“Broad cultural, technological, and economic shifts are rapidly erasing the distinctions between those who create and those who use, consume, or participate. This is true in digital experiences and information environments of all types, as well as in the physical and conceptual realms. In all of these contexts, substantial expertise, costly tools, specialized materials, and large-scale channels for distribution are no longer required to execute design.” – Joe Lamantia, blogger, graphic designer


With the recent rise in popularity of 3D films, Hollywood is raising the bar for what is considered flashy entertainment, and fans will learn to expect these larger than life effects in almost every production. But just how “3D” will 3D technology become?

Companies that currently lead the digital projector marketplace such as Sanyo and Panasonic are creating new models of digital projectors that are becoming smaller and smaller, allowing users to more comfortably find a home in their living rooms for these devices, increasing the user experience of viewing television and multimedia.

But the future of projection technology is just advancing in the portability of the machine itself, but rather, what is coming out of the lens itself.


In sci-fi films and movies, we constantly see the future imagined with more and more interaction between man and machine. Tom Cruise’s character in the film Minority Report interacts with holographic computer monitors with his bare hands, and communicates to the CPU through ordinary conversation. We reference these films and books because they allow us to imagine future technology with a bit of context, but what many people do not realize is that these technologies are in development, and early stages of “futuristic tech” are already underway.

Our computers have become incredibly more powerful by giving us access to worldwide social networking sites such as the powerhouses Facebook and Twitter.


In this past decade we have seen how technologies such as YouTube and Facebook have revolutionized all walks of communication and marketing. We can envision life re-imagined. Smart phones give us access to information and instant entertainment like never before, and as this technology reaches new planes, our ability to change the world becomes even more reachable.

In my next posting I will be discussing how musicians and record labels are helping market their music in creative ways internally. How do they impress college radio DJs? What kinds of merchandise and outreach are they giving to stations to influence more plays?



Open Source Technology (Advantageous? Or Risky?)

Is it dangerous or advantageous to give out open-source code in order for third-party companies to create their own content with your tools?

Open source is something that a few well-known and advantageous companies such as Google and Apple have been trying in the hopes of expanding our knowledge and capabilities of the software and hardware we use everyday.

Until recent years a defining factor of Apple’s Macintosh was that it strictly ran applications– there wasn’t a strong sense of customizability, and what you bought is what you used, nothing could be changed.

Apple has since better communicated with companies using other operating systems by offering their software for different operating systems, using Intel processors in their computers, and most famously, releasing the iOS SDK publicly. The SDK allows programmers to develop apps, test them on iPods, iPhones, or iPads, and distribute them to other users via the iTunes App Store.

Google is also attempting to gather a community of web architects by allowing users access to the browser’s code, named Chromium. Google believes that by giving access to Chromium to Internet users, the users can help build faster and more stable ways for people to experience web browsing.

Can this be potentially harmful to these companies? What successes have been made as a result of open source coding?


Apple’s OS for their mobile devices (iPod, iPhone, and iPad) is called iOS, and currently iOS is not available on any other devices, making Apple’s iOS proprietary and only found on Apple products.

Open-sourcing is something new for Apple.

But what they do allow, is the software used to build iPhone/iPod mobile applications to be open sourced, giving software developers, and the everyday man, an access to creating special apps available to download by the iPhone/iPod community.

Bloggers Dana Blankenhorn & Paula Rooney from believe that there is a lot of power in open sourcing Apple’s iOS, but at a price:

“Despite its growth and hype Apple iPhones and iPads still represent a small portion of Internet traffic, and the Android platform is now growing faster. If Jobs has better tools for creating apps, let him compete for programmers’ loyalty. Dictating to them in this way risks the consumer market share already gained, because consumers don’t care about programming tools, only about their own experience.”

AppleSome developers have found extreme financial success as a result of iOS. Ethan Nicholas who developed the iPhone game iShoot has become a millionaire as a result of the game he developed. Developers submit the beta of their app to the Apple Store, and once permission is granted for the app’s release, it reaches the store, earning the creator profit as soon as possible.

The software is native to Apple products, however there have been hundreds of thousands of different app’s created.




Google believes that the web browser itself, hasn’t evolved much since it’s beginning. It was made for an era where websites were built with simple HTML code, and the high demands that websites have today need a vehicle that is more powerful. Google Chrome uses webkit, which is the code that is used to help read and execute JavaScripts. A common problem for browsers has been that JavaScript and other more complicated elements of web browsers are too slow, so Chrome was built on a foundation that read JavaScript much faster thus improving the web experience.

Google ChromiumBy releasing the Chromium kit to the public, Google is able to allow web developers even more testing grounds for their webpages and browser applications. Chromium contains different testing info and architecture overviews of the browser. There has been some controversy regarding some of Chromium’s applications, such as the Mac OS X and Linux developer versions which have been known to crash often.

Open sourcing is without a doubt extremely powerful, and we have seen the successes with iPhones, Google Chrome, and even dating back to Linux’s introduction to the world. As the web grows, so does the community. There is an exciting future for open source code.

Music For The Masses

As a consumer of digital music and media downloads, it is important to have an understanding as to how these media stores function and communicate with both musicians, as well as consumers, in order to offer a great listener’s experience.

Many users feel that they are still paying a heavy price for music and content, but fans who enjoy downloading an artist’s single may find that this a tremendous value.

Whether you are a collector or a casual listener, these three different platforms make room for both types of fan.

Ask yourself, where should I buy my music? What advantages are there to purchasing music and media from digital music stores? If I know of ways to get music for free, why is it important to purchase it? What differences in technology do these different services offer?

To understand the incredible popularity of digital media downloads, let’s first take a look at it’s beginnings by evaluating how a user is able to access music from the parent application, Napster.

Napster Workings

Click To Enlarge

When a user searched for a song to download, they would click on the song and begin the download. It appeared to be an instantaneous action, and what occurred in a matter of seconds (or minutes depending on the internet connection strength) was a song request was sent to the Napster Central Index Server (NCIS). The NCIS would then communicate with different Napster clients, other users hosting said song, and then a download would begin, aggregating different elements of the file from the different clients.

As we have learned in my previous post How The MP3 Ruled The World (And Then Some), Napster was a game changer for the music industry. And these three digital media stores followed in it’s footsteps but instead created a lucrative business model instead.


In 2001, iTunes was able to attract a large market of consumers to their digital music store, and created a business model based on the controversial and convenient media downloading software of Napster and other file-sharing softwares. By offering songs sold for only $.99, or entire albums for around $10, iTunes was an attractive, worry-free solution to music listeners who were looking for a legal means to purchasing MP3 files. The iTunes store represented the savior that both musicians and record executives needed to ensure there was some means to protecting their investments.

iTunes uses both song authorization, a user-friendly directory system, and internet protocols to download music to an individual’s personal computer.

Each iTune store customer has an account which tracks purchases, keeps track of credit card information, and saves song favorites and songs that are added to the users’ “wish-list”. When songs are downloaded from the store from a particular account, the music file is encrypted with meta-data which lists the purchasing details and licensing of the file to the user. Even if this file is transferred to another computer, this data remains on the file.

As a program itself, iTunes is an interface that visualizes a person’s iTunes file directory on their computer. A users sees a list of songs, artists, and albums that all have a home within a file structure. The iTunes player processes the music and plays the music back with a built-in QuickTime player component. Because the program itself does not contain the music, iTunes is able to effectively update their interface over time, and are able to add new features to the program that heighten the experience of the user.

iTunes Downloading

Click To Enlarge

Whether music is purchased on a Mac/PC or a mobile device with iTunes compatibility,  there needs to be an internet connection in existence for the purchasing to take place. When a user purchased music from the iTunes store, a store protocol is deployed from the iTunes application to an Apple Web Server, where the music is accessed from. iTunes sends an HTTP protocol to the Apple server, which verifies the user’s account information. Almost instantly the download begins and the user then has access to a legal copy of the purchased musical download. Since the user is licensed to have a copy of each song purchased, if the file is somehow lost locally on a computer, iTunes can allow a user to re-download already purchased music on an as-needed basis. From within the iTunes program, users have access to data processing tools as well– taking their Mp3 files and converting them to a variety of audio file formats.

iTunes, like all Apple products, is designed for use by experienced computer users, as well as the less experienced. The store reflects the same mission– artists are easy to find, and their musical libraries are just a couple of short clicks from the iTunes Store homepage. The same thought is evident with how the store itself is structured– songs can be purchased individually or entire albums. This creates the separation between the casual listener, and the collector transparent, and has effected the way that music is sold by artists.

Both Amazon MP3 and Rhapsody emerged as competitors of iTunes, and aimed at taking a chunk of the large market share that iTunes was holding with the success of their store. Both digital media outlets see digital music sales success differently. Amazon MP3 works strictly within the browser, and Amazon has used their existing online sales presence of all sorts of goods and services to help fuel their success with digital music downloads.


Amazon MP3Amazon MP3 is the second largest competitor to iTunes for digital music downloading, and while on the surface it has similar aesthetic qualities, it is has a personality all it’s own. Amazon MP3 allows the user to purchase their music directly from the web browser, it doesn’t require a proprietary application to access the Amazon database. Amazon’s service is also targeted to consumers who may use a variety of different Mp3 players, it doesn’t just cater to Apple’s iPod or iPhone.

Critics are skeptical about Amazon MP3’s interface. Orn Malik of states, “I am not ready to write Amazon off just yet. We might have a worthy competitor, willing to lose a lot of money to attract customers. The Mp3 format files are awesome, and I think it makes sense for everyone to browse the Amazon store before hitting the “buy” button on iTunes.”

Amazon hopes that their sales advantages are because of the great value that some users may receive on select music selections. Some music collections are offered ten cents less then iTunes per song, for $.89. Amazon song purchases are also Digital Rights Management free, commonly referred to as DRM.

“DRM is a total control solution for the Digital Rights Management of documents, images and web pages where an author can assign different permissions per user or group of users. When DRM rights are assigned the document becomes “for their eyes only ” and any copies of that document forwarded on cannot be viewed by others unless they also have rights of view.” —

In the first quarter of 2009, iTunes went DRM free because they saw that digital stores such as Amazon MP3 found success by offering songs without this protection. In it’s first five years of existence, iTunes allowed each iTunes account up to five computers which they can play their music, encrypting each purchased song with DRM making it difficult for users to share music with one another. Amazon MP3 saw this as a weak spot in iTunes business model and acted accordingly.

The layout of Amazon MP3 features a content-rich homepage, as well as artist pages that can be accessed either through a site search or by an alphabetical catalog. Prices are compatible to iTunes, songs can either be 99¢, and albums average at $7-10 dollars. (Andreas, Anythingbutipod) Each Mp3 file is not DRM protected, which means that there is no file transfer protection on purchased songs.

Downloads from the store are also faster because there are less network connections that the web browser needs to make in order to purchase the music. As seen in the diagram above, Apple’s iTunes Store requires communication between the user’s PC, the iTunes software, HTTP protocols from either PC or mobile device, and then the download begins. With Amazon MP3, there is a direct connection between the user’s account within the browser, and the Amazon MP3 Downloader.

Tech reviewer Scott McNulty of explains, “You click on the ‘Buy MP3’ button, Amazon asks to make sure you meant to buy that track (you can turn this warning off), and then you are taken to a Thank You page which explains what is happening. Unless, of course, this is your first time downloading something from Amazon MP3, in which case you are prompted to download and install the Amazon MP3 Downloader (a Universal app)”

Some critics feel that the Amazon’s digital content downloader is unnecessary.

“One hassle with the Amazon Mp3 store is that it requires that you download and use its own download utility on your computer, similar to Amazon Unboxed, the online video and movie store sponsored by Amazon that hasn’t seemed to have taken off after receiving a lot of launch publicity…

The bottom line, is that because Amazon has effectively mimicked iTunes business model and program platform, they are able to offer a large variety of music from many genres, bands, and record labels, and have gained quite a lot of notoriety because of’s storied success selling products online. They are currently offering a comparable collection of digital music available at a higher quality then iTunes downloads (256kbps, vs. iTunes 128kbps) at a lesser price.


RhapsodyRhapsody is a digital music service which has been owned and operated by RealNetworks since August of 2003 until April of 2010 when it became independent of RealNetworks. It was released as an alternative for digital music customers who were looking to have a deeper experience shopping for music then other competitors (notably Apple and Amazon MP3) by providing a subscription fee to clients who could then access a large music library an unlimited number of times.

Users do not own the individual files that they use with the Rhapsody player, however they have unlimited amount of access to Rhapsody’s entire library if they pay for a monthly subscription.

This business model allows users to access music by downloading the Rhapsody player, which is available for both Mac & PC, as well as in the form of a mobile app, which is for different smart phones. The unlimited music that they can access must be in the form of this application, but by using the app, users can create playlists, search for music, and even enjoy different forms of multimedia such as music videos.

Rhapsody offers sub-services to help users save money. The two services that are offered are Rhapsody Premier, and Rhapsody Premier Plus. For $9.99 Rhapsody Premier allows for unlimited online listening, however, the site does limit the number of mobile devices or Mp3 player access. For an additional five dollars per month, $14.99, up to three mobile devices. “Streaming music is limited to only one mobile device, home system, or computer at any given time” (


The shopping choice may be difficult to some, because all three business models offer music selections that are quite vast, and cater to the casual listener and music collector alike. But when comparing each store’s user experience as well as their pricing and selection, iTunes takes the cake by a landslide. iTunes has become a household name, synonymous with great value and a music community unmatched by Amazon and Rhapsody.

Digital music and media is the future of entertainment, and it is important for users to familiarize themselves with different stores because our current generation uses the Mp3 as their chosen musical medium.

Napster thrived due to it’s free content, but it also because of the convenience of downloading that content. Digital music stores have mirrored that convenience and are offering an unbelievable selection at affordable prices, and more importantly, legally.

Whether it is through monthly payments or pay-per-song formats, digital music stores are made to cater to you. Social media and technologies are going through a renaissance of their own, and as a result marketers are paying closer attention to individuals instead of just clumped demographic groups. Through use of sites such as Facebook and Twitter they are able to better understand what makes our brains tick, and what music makes us tap our feet.


How will musicians and record labels better connect to fans through social networking? Could the new browser RockMelt be the answer, with all of it’s social network integration?

Entertainment In The Clouds

Cloud computing is making the contrast between different forms of multimedia to be more and more transparent. We are right now, in an entertainment renaissance, where digital entertainment and web browsing are at a crossroads, and cloud computing is helping reinvent how we absorb media.


New internet televisions such as the Apple TV, and the competitor (the arguably stronger) Google TV, allow for video, web, and photo content to all be streamed to the user seamlessly. Cloud computing has been accessible technology for several years for many people, and these internet televisions show a strong example of how cloud computing will be used in entertainment devices, and how the entertainment markets can greatly benefit from their customer’s instant access to their content.

Companies such as Netflix are beginning to offer streaming-only subscriptions, and since consumers will now have access to visual internet entertainment on their new TV sets, this creates lucrative opportunities for these companies. Clayton Morris from Fox News states, “The new Apple TV is likely to be popular among the older users thanks to features such as Netflix streaming and AirPlay.” All ages are now given great access to cloud computing technologies, and it is exciting to see it’s future unfold.

Google is helping popularize cloud computing, and uses it currently several services to consumers that involve the technology– Google Documents, AirPlay, Google TV. But Google is isn’t popularizing some with their willingness to exempt internet providers from equal broadband distribution.

Nilay Patel of Engadget states that Google and Verizon’s bill proposal would have allowed them to control the direction of bandwidth in any way they want, namely, to a higher paid subscriber.

ISPs would “be prohibited from blocking any lawful traffic their customers want to send regardless of application or service, and they’ll have to allow customers to connect any legal devices that don’t harm the network or other users.” This could be used in a variety of ways.

Skeptics believe that this proposal by these major internet communications companies has been greedy, and selfish. Both Google and Verizion claim that their carriers would disclose all information regarding the capabilities of their networks, and if they were to motion to block a particular site or ISP that they would have to announce it to the public. All of these decisions would be made with open doors.

WEB 3.0

Web 3.0 is a term used to describe the next version of the World Wide Web which makes the easiness, speed, and functionality of the web to be significantly more efficient. It is a change that we witness day by day, and as new technologies are released whose interface’s are powered by the web.

One of the biggest features of Web 3.0 that separates it from 2.0, is the intelligence of different search engines, and easiness of use. All aspects of the web– from the coding, to the search results are being elevated to heights imagined never before. conducted an interview with Sean Maloney, who is the CMO for Intel and discussed with him the future of web and it’s interaction with media. Maloney stated that

Sean Maloney, CMO, Intel

“For the first time ever user created content will be at the same or higher quality of professional content…we are able to offer HD quality through internet devices, which means we will reach mass markets faster because of the viral nature of it.”


What does this mean for cloud computing? Well because of this digital content revolution that sites such as YouTube are able to provide, it is more important than ever that content be shared if individuals are to share resources to create content together. Popular video content is not only studio produced, where the majority of files would be kept under one roof. Now people from all over the country and all over the globe must collaborate on these source files since their content will reflect the same global nature as it’s production.

One major problem with cloud computing is that while individuals users may not have to worry too much about personal storage limitations, the cloud providers have an increasing responsibility to be able to have enough space to fulfill the needs of users. CIO’s Bernard Golden says that all data transfer is in the form of a bottleneck, and compares data transfer to a skinny straw. Golden says to imagine sticking a skinny straw in a milkshake and trying to drink– when uploading an incredible amount of data up to a server, data is squeezed and slowed, and unless that straw, or these servers can have larger memory footprints.

This technology is improving rapidly, but until that straw becomes wider and wider, the lack of current cloud space is an issue. Golden’s skinny straw analogy also describes the financial burdens of having a lack of space. Increasing bandwidth is a very expensive process, and bandwidth is becoming a more and more valuable resource. Data transfer is being studied and fair pricing is being evaluated in order to best determine it’s true value, and how much it will cost to increase the standard rate of data transfer speeds.

Perhaps with an increase in popularity over time, there will be a seemingly never ending supply of space. But until then, we’re making the best out of the straws we have.

Cloud computing is the future of data transfer, and will help provide powerful tools for collaboration between musicians, artists, videographers, editors, and many other professions. I believe that these issues of bandwidth will be easily solved, and what will happen quickly is a new problem will develop– content creators will have to better protect their creative capital, and it will be vital to have protective, and identifiable services available for content creators from cloud providers.

How The MP3 Ruled The World (And Then Some)

It used to be that when you flipped through the jacket that came with the CD from your favorite band, you felt a connection, and better understood their message. The jacket contained pictures, and lyrics, and thank you’s– it spoke to you and gave you a sense of belonging to their universe. But it wasn’t imagined that the paper those jackets were printed on would soon be a forgotten art. That physical, tangible connection with bands is somewhat lost. Since the invention of file sharing technologies that removed a solid price tag from album releases, bands and record companies have worked creatively to continue to gain revenue from their music, and use different forms of digital media to continue to keep the fans coming back for more.

The MP3 was invented by several programmers at the German company Fraunhofer-Gesellshaft in 1987. The two main names that are most often linked to the technology are Karlheingz Brandenburg and Dieter Seitzer. Seitzer had been researching how to transfer high quality music over a telephone line, and Brandenburg was a leading researcher in music compression technology. Brandenburg stated, “In 1991, the project almost died. During modification tests, the encoding simply did not want to work properly. Two days before submission of the first version of the MP3 codec, we found the complier error.”

The term MP3 stands for MPEG Audio Layer III, which is a digital file that compresses recorded sound with little to no quality being lost. The quality of each MP3 file is measured by it’s bit rate, or, the number of bits per second encoded in an MP3. The bit rate can fluctuate using various softwares that are able to convert digital recordings into an MP3 file. Musicians and fans often debate whether or not MP3’s are a better way to listen to music or not because MP3s are often highly compressed, which loses some of the music’s quality, but fans debate whether the small difference is noticeable when listening to music.

The MP3 shifted from an industry filetype, one used in CD manufacturing and within the recording industry, to the most popular form of listened media with the invention of a revolutionary peer-to-peer software called Napster. Napster was invented in 1999 by Sean Fanning and allowed thousands of users to have free and easy access to millions of different music and media files, that they could download nearly unnoticeably to their computers by means of a centralized server. A file would get uploaded to the centralized server from a particular location, and that file would be duplicated by downloaders using the Napster software and the Internet, and gave them nearly immediate access to all sorts of media that would have only been accessed through the purchasing of music. Several bands, record companies, and the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) took legal action against Napster and was able to make both Napster and the uploaders of MP3s and digital content responsible for distributing it to millions of people. Napster was eventually shut down, however there have been a never ending amount of popular softwares that mimic Napster’s peer-to-peer model and allow for the distribution of music.
What has resulted from Napster and other softwares like these is a fan culture change. Fans are aware of their easy access to free music so musicians must take advantage of the modern technologies of social media to stay close to the fans by offering them an experience that goes beyond their music. Gathering fans to their concert tours are crucial for them to remain financially successful.

The Antipiracy Bill

In an age where access to free music, movies, and media are tremendously easy to find, the battle for fair Internet legislation continues to protect the investments of content creators nationwide.

The bills supporters believe that copyright infringement is helping shrink the economy. Supporters believe that because intellectual properties are widely available because of pirates, it is vital that their actions be stopped.

“Critics say the proposed legislation, known as the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, is nothing more than censorship and would heap the copyright-protection problems on companies that shouldn’t bear the burden.” (Greg Sandoval/CNET)

Currently, the U.S. Justice Department does not have the rights to shut down Web sites that promote the free-access to intellectual properties that are otherwise sold to consumers. Creating legislation to battle piracy is difficult because the domain names of these must be hosted in the United States in order for US law enforcers to investigate.

Not all industry professionals agree with the proposed legislation.

Ed Black

“Legislation like this goes through, we start to break the Internet,” said Ed Black, CEO of the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA). “Nobody is arguing that copyright infringement doesn’t exist. But Lady Gaga isn’t going to go broke tomorrow. We should be trying to solve the copyright issue in as an unobtrusive and thoughtful way as possible and not creating anti-First Amendment laws.” (Greg Sandoval/CNET)

The music industry is incredibly effected by torrent sites such as The Pirate Bay which gives easy, free, and instant access to thousands of music files.

Jonathan Lamy is a spokesman for the Recording Industry Associacion of America (RIAA) woh states, “No one has been harder hit by rogue foreign Web sites that unabashedly steal our content and give it away for free than the music community. These illegal enterprises undermine our economy and contribute to thousands of hard-working Americans losing their jobs. The answer from these self-styled public interest groups can’t always be ‘no.’ Congressional and administration leaders have made it clear that doing nothing is no longer an option.” (Quote courtesy of CNET)