Music on demand

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Music-on-demand is a music distribution model conceived with the growth of two-way computing and telecommunications in the early 1990s. Primarily, high-quality music is made available to purchase, access and play back using software on the Apple Macintosh, Microsoft Windows, set-top boxes and mobile devices from an available distribution point, such as a computer host or server located at a telephone, cable TV or wireless data center facility.

In 1992, computer modem speeds were limited to less than 28 thousand bits per second (28 kbit/s), compared with uncompressed music on compact disc (CD) that required 150 thousand bytes per second. As a result, additional bandwidth is required to accommodate delivering audio at CD quality standards: 16-bit frame, 44.1 kHz sampling rate, stereophonic (two channel audio). This prompted telephony, CATV, cellular and satellite providers to consider changing standards, in terms of building higher capacity for existing telecommunications infrastructures.

Early attempts at designing and developing music-on-demand technology, in accordance with the laws of the United States such as the Home Recording Act of 1992, include Access Media Network (AMN) by inventor Dale Schalow. Schalow, born in Virginia, was an independent audio engineer and programmer in Los Angeles, California, who helped record albums and music scores for David Bowie, Tin Machine, Cypress Hill, House of Pain, Beastie Boys, Interscope, and Warner Brothers. A multiplexed music-on-demand model was deployed using PCM audio sampling devices, Apple IIci, the KERMIT computer file transfer protocol, and SCSI storage systems by Schalow to validate processing 16-bit multi-channel audio from point-to-point in a professional recording studio environment, including his own independently operated Dascha company and 38 Fresh Recordings. The model conceived was introduced by Schalow to Apple Computer in 1992 after he submitted an entry into the "I Changed the World" contest, essentially describing how an Apple computer helped shape and change the world forever based upon its usage. Apple acknowledged the "Accessible Music Network" (AMN) by awarding Schalow Honorable Mention and sending him a simple gray T-shirt with the Apple logo on it. The technology was also proposed to David Bowie in 1993, who a few years later, introduced his own network service to the world.

Stand-alone software created by AMN for consumer-based access was then developed for the Microsoft Windows computer operating system, as well as set-top box design prototypes conceptualized with 3D prototype imaging that required a telephone connector located next to a coaxial cable TV connector to converge low speed data uplinking with high speed downloading interactive communications.

Presently, music-on-demand is still the center of controversy with a focus on illegal music downloading, peer-to-peer file swapping and the lag of legislation for rapidly changing technology on the Internet. Record labels represented by the RIAA, as well as publishers and songwriters, have vigorously defended copyrighted materials and have been successful in enforcing current laws for protecting their intellectual property. As of 2006, the new music industry has seen a rapid growth in overall revenues for legal digital music sales that has resulted in hitting and surpassing one billion dollars annually.


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