Bach Technology, a digital technology provider with offices in Norway, Germany and China, issued a bold announcement at MIDEM about what it described as the successor to the MP3.
The company officially launched its MusicDNA service, a media extension that allows music fans to access a wide range of content related to the original track they purchased, such as lyrics, artwork, tour dates, blog posts, video and Twitter feeds.
Unlike the iTunes LP additional content, MusicDNA can be regularly updated. The content appears, alongside the MP3, in a free, downloadable music player which updates when online. All files are backwards compatible so the track alone will work on any MP3 player.
At a press conference at the MIDEM music market and conference in Cannes, executives at the company stressed the benefits to labels from the service as an alternative to P2P. Although there will be no digital rights management of the MP3 music file, there will be encryption and recognition around the additional content - so pirated versions would only exist as static files and users would not get the updated content, even if they download the player.
The service enables rights holders to offer concert tickets, merchandise and other content via the MusicDNA service.
Partners on board for the beta launch this spring include Beggars Group, Tommy Boy Entertainment, Delta Records and Amiata Records from Italy. Digital service providers and retailers are also offering support, including China's R2G, Sweden's InProdicon and People's Music Store in the U.K.
Bach is also in talks with other potential partners and rollout will take place throughout 2010.
Bach's technology partner is Germany's Fraunhofer IDMT (Institute for Digital Media Technology); IDMT's director Karlheinz Brandenburg is an investor in Bach. Brandenburg invented the MP3 and describes MusicDNA to Billboard.biz as "MP3-Plus."
"Twenty years on from the initial development of the MP3, it is time for digital audio to once again evolve," said Stefan Kohlmeyer, Bach Technology CEO, in a statement. "Just as vinyl gave way to the CD and the CD to MP3, it is time for the MP3 to pass the baton on to MusicDNA."
Tom Silverman, founder and CEO of Tommy Boy Entertainment, said it "will be a boon for artists and fans as it dynamically connects them long after purchase."
Bach said that while the additional content may already exist online, it is dispersed and not packaged together in such a convenient format.