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Music Technology Rocks the Internet

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RALEIGH — Surfing the web can take users to online stores, chat rooms, investment sites and even music studios. A technology called MP3 is making a big noise in the music industry.

MP3 allows musicians to put their music on the Internet, and ordinary users can download and play it free on their multimedia equipped computers.

The concept has big record companies worried that recording studios are a thing of the past.

Steve Bass mixes and records CDs for Triangle musicians, but MP3 is changing his world.

"The computer is becoming the way people make music, the way people mix music and enhance music," Bass said. "It's becoming the way music will be distributed."

If a user does not have multimedia capability, they can downloaded an MP3 player by paying a small, one time charge. They can then download various types of music from numerous groups.

The compressed MP3 music sounds almost as good as a CD.

"It's warmer, it sounds more like your old record player," Bass said. "It's more full."

TheMP3 Web siteoffers thousands of downloads that have been hit millions of times. The $38 billion recording industry is watching closely.

"The major record companies are not going to hand the Internet over to the entrepreneurs and say when it comes to the Internet you guys do it," says Hillary Rosen with the Recording Industry Association.

IBMis working with five major recording companies to manage distribution on the Internet and protect profits. Rocker Billy Idol already jumped ship and put a couple of numbers on the Internet.

Traditional studios are fading as musicians hook instruments to computers in their homes. Artist then put their work on the Internet hoping to gain recognition and a big break.

"People are amazed by what they hear, and at the same time, there is a roll over to it," Rosen said. "The reality is that nobody knows who [the artist] is, but I think he lives right down the street."

MP3 downloads are very popular, and some users have the ability with recordable / rewritable CD-ROMs to make personalized CDs with ten hours of customized music. Then, they can play it at home or in their car - selling CDs made at home is illegal.


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