Spotify: “URL Will Become Universal Music Format.”

image from www.hs.fi Spotify's Jonathan Forster thinks 2011 will bring us one-step closer to this. The URL becoming the new universal format for music. We won't send out MP3s or links to YouTube videos, the URL itself will be the primary way that fans are exposed to music. You click it and music plays – not for thirty or ninety seconds, but the whole song – every time.

Imagine reading to ebook for 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die and being able to click on every song and hear it as you read. If song URLs are ubiquitous, we can do that. It's possible that the URL will become more widely used than the MP3 file. Regardless, music's final resting place will be digital.

Thinking about this, I'm left wondering whatever happened to MusicDNA. That music format was supposed to be the next big thing by now. To my memory, MusicDNA is centered around richer metadata and true metadata portability.

The company behind it, BACH Technology, envisions a music format that has the lyrics and other online data encoded directly into the file. This would enable major labels to send notifications to users who have downloaded songs and tell them about new developments. All of these features would be disabled the moment that a file found its way onto BitTorrent. I've argued that it will be difficult to get something like this to catch on – especially if it costs more. There's certainly value in improving the consumer experience of the MP3. Making it more desirable to fans and shifting the nature of the format so that it can be used as a pull marketing mechanism. However, I don't see it becoming as ubiquitous as URLs.

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  1. This is SO true and also why I think the whole piracy thing is overblown.
    Click and play will always defeat the download.
    I’ve noticed this with myself, since I signed up with Spotify. The reason why I still download music, is simply to use it in DJ sets, but other than that, I have no good reason to store music on my computer.
    Whoever is the first to offer a complete catalogue, with FULL tracks (not 30-90 secs), in high quality, very accessible, portable and customizable on massive scale will win.
    In my opinion record labels need to be a bit more flexible with licensing to open up the way for these great legal alternatives. I think by next Christmas, it should become very clear who the regional winners of this race are going to be (I say regional, because the licensing has kept great US platforms out of Europe, and great European platforms out of the EU, sadly).

  2. Let’s look at the facts and not the hype:
    1) There *was* a service that allowed users to play an entire song for free once. It was called Lala.com. Apple – the leading music retailer – bought it and killed the capability.
    2) Spotify has been “coming soon” to the US for the past couple years, suffering exec departures and setbacks while competitors have surged ahead. They might want to focus on bringing something to market instead of prognosticating.
    Technically speaking, the URL-dominated future is already here: many of my friends use YouTube links to point to music.

  3. Great discussion about URLs and music on the Internet. The URL will become the universal music format but not in this manner. I disagree that it will be a music shortener because it is not memorable. The future will be a memorable URL under the top-level domain name .music as opposed to .com or other TLDs.
    If you want more info on the future of music links go to Music.us
    We have been building the technology for a few years now. We expect it to be launched in 2012.
    I think the key is URLs that make sense and can be directly navigated to. Traditional shortened URLs are not the future because they can not be remembered.
    Constantine Roussos
    Music Top-Level Domain Initiative

  4. URLs is a mess on mobile phones and as other said not memorable so I don’t think it will be the “format”, but streaming will. And hopefully a universal format that will upen up a link in whatever streaming-app you have…

  5. your comment “the whole piracy thing is overblown”, doesn’t take into consideration the writer(s) of the music. they don’t get paid when the performer does live venues, etc. the “whole piracy thing” is the reason why the number of professional songwriters around today are about only 10% of what it was 10 years ago….. would you go to an insurance office to work every day if you made no money?

  6. I agree completely. “The URL will become the universal music format” and this exactly what we are doing at http://www.viinyl.com.
    We take it one step further, not only can you have a memorable URL for each song, however we also provide the possibility to create a whole website around each song as well. The goal is to enhance the music experience and create an interactive visually appealing site that will seduce fan.
    viinyl is most simply described as: 1Song. 1Site. 1URL.
    Great article – thanks.

  7. As cruel as that sounds… screw the ghost writers. If you can’t perform your song, you’re not a musician. We don’t need more of those “first-I-come-up-with-a-rhythm-then-I-put-pitches-to-them-then-chords-and-so-on…”-writers. It’s an obsolete job.
    Plenty of music is being written by performers.

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