Music Biz Urges Download Harmony

The music industry is pushing bitter technology rivals -- most notably Microsoft and Apple -- to shake hands in the interest of promoting digital downloads, Billboard has learned. Hardware makers and digital format developers, including many traditional adversaries, are engaged in private talks aimed at meeting the music industry's goal of compatibility among competing digital music devices by 2005. "There's a substantial discussion going on among these companies about interoperability," says Paul Vidich, executive VP of strategic planning and business development for Warner Music Group.

Consumers are embracing commercial digital music in increasing numbers, and the trend is likely to be aided by a Pepsi-Apple promotion launching Feb. 1 during Super Bowl XXXVIII. But incompatibility among certain digital music services and portable players remains an obstacle. "Consumers are going to demand that there be interoperability in devices and software players," Vidich says. Executives with knowledge of the talks say much of the focus is on transcoding -- the process of converting a file from one format to another. It is impossible right now for consumers to directly convert a file protected by one type of digital rights management (DRM) into another type of secure file.

News source: Reuters

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