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Recording Industry Planning New Digital Format, “CMX”

Posted on August 12, 2009 10:45 AM by Rob Williams
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MP3? FLAC? M4A? Apparently, such formats aren’t good enough for a few large players in the recording industry, such as Sony, Warner and Universal, as the entire conglomerate is planning on releasing a brand-new format, tentatively called, “CMX”. This format’s main goal is to sell entire albums as a digital format, not single tracks. Similar to how Apple’s iTunes embeds album art into their M4A files, CMX would implement that, along with lyrics, and potentially other bonuses.

This new format, is of course, doomed. There’s a reason the MP3 format is so popular. First, it works. Today’s encoders are so robust, that you can have a modestly-sized MP3 to one encoded at a high bitrate of 320kbit/s, or even beyond in some cases. It’s successful, because it’s popular, and all media players out there support it – even the iPod, which prefers M4A’s.

That’s not to say that CMX, aside from the ridiculous name, is a horrible idea in theory, but I’m afraid it’s far too late in the game to see a real chance of it becoming successful. After all, no current media players will be able to use it (except ones that have update-able software), and Apple has already rejected it in lieu of creating their own such format. Unfortunately, Apple’s is more likely to succeed, at least for a while, since the iPod is still the leading player on the market. The scary thing, of course, is that their format would not likely work in other players, or anywhere outside of iTunes, unless the company chooses to license it, which I can’t personally see happening.

Again, it’s not a horrible idea, but for something like this to be truly successful, we’d need total openness… a format that’s not exclusive to one company. The idea behind CMX and whatever Apple has en route is that it should recreate the experience of buying the real CD. So you get album art, liner notes, perhaps some extra content, and whatever else they might choose to throw in there. But with CMX offering so much more than a typical downloaded MP3 or M4A… you’d imagine there would be a premium as well. What’s that mean? More than ever, it would make more sense to just go buy the physical CD, and rip it however you like.


Credit: Bob Donlon

“Apple at first told us that they were not interested, but now they have decided to do their own, in case ours catches on,” a label rep told the Times. “Ours will be a file that you click on, it opens and it would have a brand new look, with a launch page and all the different options. When you click on it you’re not just going to get the 10 tracks, you’re going to get the artwork, the video and mobile products.”

Source: The Guardian

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