Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Tuning in to Your Computer

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Tuning in to Your Computer

Article excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO -- The future of the music industry can now be heard through your own home computer, where a new technology called MP3 could reshape the way we buy and hear music.

In the time it would take to drive to the record store, spend $16.99 on a CD, bring it home and pop it in a stereo, a music lover can download the same high-quality recordings from the Internet -- often for free.

Musicians can use MP3 to market their songs directly to consumers, bypassing fickle agents, record companies and distributors by putting audio files on their own Web sites, a practice that recently got rap artist Chuck D in trouble with his record label, Def-Jam. If that weren't troubling enough for the recording industry, just in time for Christmas there's Rio, a Walkman-like music player that carries about an hour's worth of CD-quality MP3 music on a computer chip. It sells for $199, weighs under three ounces and runs for 12 hours on one AA battery. The technology works like this: Users download songs from the Internet or copy them from CDs and store them on a computer. An entire album takes about two hours to download, while popping downloaded files onto the Rio takes only a few seconds. The Rio lets listeners skip, scan and shuffle through numerous song tracks, all on the go. The Recording Industry of America Association says artists will be hurt most as bootlegged MP3 files siphon off royalties. The RIAA reported losing $300 million annually prior to the advent of online piracy. Then again, the RIAA said the same thing about cassette tapes, and the music business survived. "It's a freight train coming down the tracks, and instead of getting on the freight train and going for a nice ride, they're standing in front with their hand out. And it could get ugly," said Ken Wirt, a spokesman for Diamond Multimedia Systems, Inc. …

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