Web Music Embraced By Industry




CANNES, France -- David Bowie broke fresh ground when he took to the Internet to give fans a first bite at his new album.


Tori Amos's sales took off when a preview track from her new album was offered to retailers around the world over the Internet.


A posthumous single by Australian singer Michael Hutchence was released to radio stations through the Internet.


Software wizards just keep coming up with cheaper, faster and more secure ways for record companies to appeal direct to their customers.


But Liquid Audio Inc., one of the leaders in a fast-changing field, insisted Wednesday that the Internet does not spell the end of the compact disc.


"The movie industry feared the worst when video came along, cable too. It actually helped to build new markets," said Dick Wingate, senior vice-president of the company based in Redwood City, California. "The same applies with the Internet. The music industry has to come to grips with it," he added.


"The record companies will now have to be good at market savvy," said Wingate, showing off the company's latest wares at Midem, the record industry's annual marketplace that attracts more than 4,000 firms from over 90 countries to this French Riviera resort.


Forrester Research has predicted that the market for digitally downloaded music will grow to $1.1 billion by 2003 and the record industry is certainly undergoing a revolution in the new century.


"Music on Click" was very much the theme at Midem, dominated this week by the news that Britain's EMI Group PLC and Time Warner Inc. are merging to form a $20 billion company with a powerful presence on the Internet.


New formats are constantly being produced and Liquid Audio says technology will benefit the industry because increasingly sophisticated systems can help to thwart the copyright pirates who have plagued the industry worldwide.


For instance, Liquid Audio joined forces this year with the Sony Corp. to deliver digital music to portable audio players over the Internet.


And now more than 6,000 pop bands from 1,000 different labels are using Liquid Audio software to publish or syndicate music for retailers and consumers. The day of the "net browsing" record buyer has firmly arrived.