The Lava Player 2.0 is free to Net users and lets online music promoters create interactive 3D videos to accompany tracks encoded in MP3 and other digital formats. The next version of player software also will let developers incorporate music video content like that seen on MTV.
Other Net music players by RealNetworks and Microsoft let users stream traditional videos, but the quality often is sketchy depending on bandwidth and other technical barriers.
When a video is being screened through Lava, a ticker of hyperlinks to the artist's Web site or online record stores is streamed at the bottom of the player. Users also can move the objects around or add new textures to the 3D videos.
Lava's goal is to help artists get above the fray in the crowded online independent music scene by giving online music distributors a way to couple music with content and art, the same way CDs are marketed in plastic cases that include lyrics, graphics and fan club information.
Sites such as Epitonic.com, MP3dom.com and EMusic's Cductive.com, which distribute tracks by independent labels, have signed on with Lava to use the software.
"They can create these videos in less time than it takes to play a song--otherwise they wouldn't deal with it," said Mike Barnes, Net marketing manager for Lava. "For the consumer, it's designed as interactive entertainment."
Creative Labs has been making solid investments in the digital music market. To compete with Diamond Multimedia's Rio player and RCA's new Lyra, the company released a portable MP3 player, the Nomad, which holds about an hour of near-CD quality music.