MusicDNA, a new file format that looks a lot like Apple's iTunes LP format, wants to bring liner notes to the 21st century. MusicDNA is a new rich-media extension for digital music files that enriches songs and albums with additional data like lyrics, videos, RSS and Twitter feeds, as well as up to 14 additional pieces of metadata like mood and tempo. Artists and record labels will be able to ship up to 32GB of data with these files.For the most part, digital music has killed the liner notes that used to come with CDs. Now,
MusicDNA is the creation of Dagfinn Bach's Bach Technologies. Bach worked on building one of the first MP3 players in 1993. One of the most prominent backers of MusicDNA is Karlheinz Brandenburg, one of the co-inventors of the MP3 format. The company plans to ship its software in the spring.
Just a Wrapper
It's important to note that MusicDNA doesn't propose a new format for encoding the music itself. Instead, MusicDNA is simply an XML-wrapper for music files. In theory, this should make it easier for music labels and artists to adopt this new format as the actual music file will be compatible with virtually every MP3 player on the market. These devices will just play the MP3 track and ignore the rest of the data. To get access to the additional information, though, you currently have to use MusicDNA's own player. The company plans to release plugins for iTunes and Windows Media Player later this year.
Is MusicDNA Doomed?
We have to wonder, though, if anybody is really interested in yet another proprietary file format for distributing music. While the iTunesLP format hasn't exactly caught fire yet (though the mythical Apple tablet could change that), Apple isn't likely to license this technology from Bach. It's also important to note that Sony, Warner, Universal and EMI have developed their own file format for bundling music files with additional content.
At this point, it seems rather unlikely that MusicDNA will be a major success. While the developers claim to have 10 partners on board for the launch, none of these are major labels. Unless MusicDNA can get the major labels to give up their own format and to drop support for iTunes and the iTunesLP format, this venture isn't very likely to succeed.