How online music brings the <BR>winners to your PC

Jesse Berst, Editorial DirectorZDNet AnchorDesk...
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Jesse Berst, Editorial Director
ZDNet AnchorDesk

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Our 20-something Associate Editor Chris Albrecht -- you know, the one with the attitude hair (click for more) -- managed to get an invite to the Grammy Awards gala. Haven't heard yet whether he got within 10 paces of Christina Aguilera, but I expect a glitz report as soon as he's back in town.

I also expect to hear the award-winning tunes blaring from his office. His way of reminding us he got to rub elbows with the stars. Beautiful thing is, I don't need Chris to hear last night's Grammy winners. The Internet is a music mecca, a pop culture playground -- and getting better every day. Consider these promising developments since we last talked about digital music:

Major labels invest in Listen.com. This is a big deal -- the cyber equivalent of peace in the Middle East, as Interactive Week put it. The five major record labels have made equity investments in Listen.com, an online music directory of legal digital music. The labels are realizing they can't sit out the future. And are partnering with online companies they can work with, rather than against. Click for more.

Napster pushes the MP3 envelope. The college student who wrote the hit software program Napster is definitely not getting fan mail from the major labels. Not when the program allows music lovers to chat with each other and share each other's collections of MP3 files. The recording industry sued Napster in December, but as Salon.com notes, if the startup can survive growing pains and court battles, it has the potential to turn the music industry upside down. Click for more.

SwapStation creates music communities. The idea behind newcomer SwapStation is to provide a central gathering place where music enthusiasts can connect and arrange music exchanges. No files are uploaded or transferred through the site, which may help SwapStation avoid the wrath of recording industry lawyers. The site anticipates adding other swapping services as it grows. Click for more.

I'd be remiss if I didn't point you to ZDNet's very cool music channel, where MP3 madness is the top story right now. Click for more. And don't miss Preston Gralla's recent Killer Download feature on new MP3 tools. Click for more.

There are still legitimate copyright, standards and distribution issues muddying the digital music space. But we are getting closer. Those conflicted over copyright and privacy issues now have legitimate ways to join this music revolution.

Who do you think will ultimately control the digital music industry? The same major labels who always have -- or someone else? Use the TalkBack button to tell us what you think.

Meeting pop stars would be a hair-raising experience for some 20-something guys. Not sure how that works with people like Chris who already have their hair raised.

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