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MP3: A week in the life of a format under siege

All hail MP3, the format that started life as an experiment is now battling against the world just to stay alive. Here's a week in the life of...

Erudite observers will understand the issues facing the music industry this century. Gone are the days when silk clad musos cruised effortlessly from one meeting to another discussing hip plans to promote talentless boy bands. Ask a music producer what's on his mind today and it's the Net.

Organisations like Crunch, Peoplesound and a host of other Net savvy music sites are giving individuals the chance to shine without all the glam marketing the music companies have used on mega flops like Peter Andre, Chesney Hawkes or the UK's very own Bad Boys Inc.

So what's the biggest challenge facing the music industry? Is it piracy, the format of electronic music delivery or is it the arrival of broadband facilitating streaming audio? Here's a roundup of a few major music stories that have touched on these issues over the last week or so.

After you've read them through check out our new MP3 Newsroom and don't forget to download the latest tunes from our Peoplesound Top 5.

The end of the week saw Philips step into the MP3 arena, with its Rush portable player. Good news too for RealNetworks, as Philips snubbed WMA in favour of RealAudio and MP3.

With all the hype surrounding MP3 and competing formats it may come as a surprise to learn the music industry couldn't care less about the details, just as long as they don't get caught out... Again.

It wasn't all bad for Microsoft's WMA format this week. On Wednesday it even scored a win over MP3. However, at least one analyst believes the AOL Time Warner merger and EMI tie-in, could have a part to play in killing them both.

One company still resolutely flying the MP3 flag got into yet more hot water earlier in the week, landing a lawsuit from the Recording Industry Association of America. The suit alleges MP3.com's new Listening and Beam-it service is illegal.

The week started with Microsoft very pleased with itself as it gained a significant push for its WMA format through a partnership with Liquid Audio. Liquid Audio, which seems to have given up in the race to establish a dominant format, added support for WMA to its own flagging software.

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