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MP3 technology rocking the music world

the fire ants
New York rock group the Fire Ants have gained exposure on the Internet with MP3

Part 2: Music for the new millennium is bypassing record industry

MP3 index special

CNN's Rick Lockridge tells the story of a New York rock band that has found new life on the Internet
Windows Media 28K 80K


March 1, 1999
Web posted at: 11:50 p.m. EST (0450 GMT)

NEW YORK (CNN) -- There's a revolution under way in the music world that could eventually change the way you buy, carry and listen to your favorite songs.

MP3, a digital music technology, is sweeping the Internet. Web surfers can download thousands of songs, many for free.

MP3 software squeezes songs that are normally too big to move around the Internet into files that are just one-tenth their original size. Using MP3 is legal if the song's copyright holder has granted permission to download and play the song.

"You can broadcast it, you can download it, you can buy it, you can E-mail it," said Michael Robertson, chief executive officer of "It still sounds great. In fact it sounds basically indistinguishable from a CD."'s 250,000 daily visitors can download free songs from more than 4,000 artists, along with free software to play those songs.

An online foot in the door

The file format MP3 stores audio files on a computer  

For bands without record labels, MP3 is also an invaluable promotion tool that allows them to bypass doors often closed by record companies.

"It totally has promoted us in a way that we couldn't have had before, people we don't know heard about us," said Jason Appleton, lead vocalist of a New York rock band called the Fire Ants.

"We started out in December, and we found that in one month we had ... over a thousand hits on our site at MP3. I think there were over 200 downloads of our songs," said bandmate Mark Hermann.

Although the Fire Ants enjoy the promotional benefits of MP3 free of charge, illegal music trading, or bootlegging, also flourishes on the Web.

Some sites offer songs without copyright permission, posing a major threat to record labels and performers. The recording industry is racing to develop its own technologies to sell music that cannot be easily traded on the Web.

"We want and the artist wants for that music to be widely available to you. But there needs to be some measure of control over what you then do with that music," said Kevin Conroy of BMG Entertainment.

Correspondent Rick Lockridge contributed to this report.

From...Digital grunge? adds indie record label to roster
February 25, 1999
New music site drops a bomb on major labels
February 19, 1999
New Web site to ease MP3 licensing
February 12, 1999
Local bands make it big on the Web
February 2, 1999
Internet music outruns recording industry
January 12, 1999

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