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Wednesday, August 25, 1999 Published at 21:27 GMT 22:27 UK


Business: The Company File

Don't write off the CD - yet

Companies such as MP3.com anger CD manufacturers

By Patrick O'Connell

It's like a scratch on the blackboard for the record industry.

Sales of music using the web and not the CD are up. According to figures from the firms who sell music though the net using MP3 technology, sales have tripled in the past year.

It's still a tiny fraction of the world's music industry but large enough to anger the record business.


[ image: Michael Robertson: the CD isn't dead yet]
Michael Robertson: the CD isn't dead yet
They're convinced not enough is being done to combat pirates - who can swap songs round the web like children trade baseball cards.

But the boss of the one of the big firms involved in web-music has again defended the technology and the way it's used.

Michael Robertson, chief executive of MP3.com says: don't write off the CD.


Micheal Robertson of MP3.com talking to BBC News
"I think the CD is going to be with us for a long time. There are a billion CD players in the world ... technologies are very reticent to be left behind. So I think CDs will be with us for a long time," he said.

Many people whose livelihoods depend on the traditional business of recording, distribution and marketing often seem less certain. The potential for piracy is enough to bring similar claims for action from rival record labels.

Is it piracy?

Michael Robertson thinks they should turn down the complaining: "The record labels ... are looking to the piracy issue as a way to say - you know - we need a secure format which we can control so we can keep our distribution control. That's really the fundamental issue here, it's not about piracy."

Talk like this might blow the circuits of both the firm's competition and the record business. But web users will know this is an argument to follow.

It prompts many questions about the commercial use of the Internet.

Already MP3.com says it's adding 200 artists every day to its stable of 25,000. Some 30% of the perfomers are based outside the US and 22% of customers live outside America.

Now, where did you leave the sleeve for that new CD?



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