Labels are trying to block a site that lets you sell old MP3s, but is it right in the first place? We also introduce some smart new playlist services, and question whether developers are the new rockstars.
Welcome to our second weekly roundup of industry news and opinion.
Last week we celebrated the 30th birthday of the CD. But we live in a digital age, and unlike CDs, we can't sell on MP3s when we're finished with them. Or can we?
ReDigi is a service that lets you sell your 'old' MP3s to willing buyers, just like eBay, while neatly deleting the files from your computer to keep the labels happy.
The problem is, the labels don't believe it. They think that a second-hand MP3 market will damage their revenues even further, which would suck after all that trouble with Piracy.
ReDigi say that US copyright law allows CDs to be sold on, and that it should also apply to digital music. Labels say it only applies to physical products, and so took a lawsuit against ReDigi to court last Friday.
This case could prove to be a big deal, because its conclusion could decide how the law perceives digital products and what rights we have when we buy them.
The labels are saying that MP3s can't be 'sold on' because computers have to technically copy them to other computers first, and we all know that copying certain files is illegal. ReDigi swears it doesn't work like that, and said "there is no copy involved. The actual file is being transported."
If ReDigi wins the case, we could be sitting on a goldmine of MP3s which haven't been played for years. If it loses, businesses from all sectors will cite this as an example of why digital files can never be resold. It's too early to tell how this might affect us, but when you think how many modern products are purely digital, it makes you wonder how far our digital lives will go.
Meanwhile, here's a cool music tool to browse. It's called Stereomood and it claims to filter new music from independent labels based on your mood.
This is only one of many new music services which are being hacked together by independent developers. The music hacking scene is one to watch - it's basically a global group of people who experiment with the open data being provided by labels to make brand new music apps. Sometimes the data is as simple as artist information and gig listings, and sometimes it's the equivalent of opening access to a music-analysing supercomputer. Either way, it enables young devs to explore ideas and apps that they would never have a chance to make otherwise.
One of the coolest things about this arrangement is how the developers get together at so-called 'hack days' where they arrive in the morning and collaborate over the day on something fun, fuelled by Red Bull and pizza. In some ways it's the most punk scene for years, but many musicians don't even realise it's happening.
Does this mean the new rock stars will be developers? Should musicians be collaborating with coders on the future of music? It certainly looks it could go that way. If you want to try your hand at coding, try a site like Codecademy which can teach you how to start.
On that note, I'll leave you to play with another great music hack: the YouTube Related Music Player. Start with one video and it'll run an endless stream of similar music. We'll hunt for all the really exciting music apps for a future article.
While you listen to that, let's start a debate:
Should we have a right to sell old MP3s?Do new streaming services satisfy your needs as a music fan?Are developers the new rockstars?
Let us know your opinions in the comments. UG staff will be joining the debate, so feel free to ask your own questions.
By Tom Davenport