On the Net, the tunes may change. But the song remains the same: cha-ching.
Warner Music Group is creating a new music-distribution mechanism that will rely on digital downloads instead of compact discs. The new mechanism will be called an "e-label," in which artists will release music in clusters of three songs every few months rather than a CD every few years.
The e-label will permit recording artists to enjoy a "supportive, lower-risk environment" without as much pressure for huge commercial hits, the company said. In addition, artists signed to the e-label will retain copyright and ownership of their master recordings.
Warner Music's move seems to be a response to the exploding popularity of music-download services and the slowly slipping sales of physical CDs. According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, about 180 million songs were sold online in the first half of 2005, up from 57 million in the same period last year.
Online music is also being visited by the spirit of music video's golden age. Podcasting start-up PodShow, the love child of former MTV video jockey Adam Curry, has created a network for musicians and podcasters.
The PodSafe music network is designed to give podcasters access to music, other content and tools to create royalty-free podcasts. Musicians can use the network to promote and market their music, while listeners can access music in single-play or podcast formats.
Meanwhile, Sirius Satellite Radio has unveiled a portable music device that can store the company's programming as well as MP3 files from a PC. The S50 is designed to let people record, store and play up to 50 hours of satellite radio programming and music files.
A home dock or a car dock--the latter is bundled with the player--is needed to record the programming or play live shows. Measuring 1.9 inches by 3.9 inches by 0.7 inches, the player features a color display and voice-assisted channel navigation.