Against the backdrop of an intensifying battle over the control of music downloads from the Web, one start-up is hoping to start off on the recording industry's good side with an upcoming launch.
Next month, MCY Music is slated to premier its MCY.com site, which will host a music distribution service that uses a proprietary encryption technology to allow users to download MP3 music files without violating record company copyright laws.
The company hopes its bid into the Web music market not only will increase revenues, but also will supply a standard that the recording industry can embrace.
Users of MCY.com can sample music tracks, and can purchase them after downloading the company's music player software. MCY.com's service also will include the use of digital watermarks for each download and a royalty tracking system that enables record companies to observe real-time earnings from downloads.
"MCY Music has a very strong solution to the industry's concerns about Internet piracy," MCY Music chief executive Bernhard Fritsch said in a statement. "We fully support the new initiatives being taken by the recording industry and look forward to working with them."
The company's announcement comes in the aftermath of the Recording Industry Association of America's efforts to curb illegal MP3 music file distribution. MP3 is a CD-quality audio compression format that Netizens can download and save onto their hard drives. Much to the displeasure of the RIAA, MP3 has spread like wildfire on the Net, and has become the most popular music download format on the Web.
As a result of MP3's popularity, the distribution of songs and albums on the Web without the approval of record companies has become commonplace. In an effort to halt MP3 distribution, the RIAA has taken legal action against MP3 playback devices like Diamond Multimedia's Rio PMP300.
Earlier this month, the RIAA launched an initiative to create its own secure format with the endorsement of the "Big Five" record labels: BMG, EMI, Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, and Warner Bros. Music. However, analysts and observers expect difficulty in implementing the initiative, given the widespread use of MP3, as well as of rival music delivery systems a2b and Liquid Audio.
Furthermore, the RIAA is not expected to unveil its Secure Digital Music Initiative campaign for at least a year, which analysts say is very late in the game (See related story). Much could change in a year, they noted, and MP3 likely will continue to serve as the compression format of choice--with or without the secure specification the RIAA wishes to impose.
"The biggest thing encouraging piracy now is the fact that virtually no record labels have made major artists available through digital music distribution," said Jupiter Communications analyst Mark Mooradian. "There's no legitimate opportunity to purchase major music online. [Companies like MCY.com] are trying to bring technology to the music industry and saying, 'You guys have to propose a legitimate alternative for consumers to use, or you'll see piracy continue to proliferate.'"