By Richard Menta- 4/19/00
Those who work with Macromedia Director and Flash have know for years that Shockwave does a very good job with compressed audio.
Some of the first non-Real.com web radio applications were actually shocked jukebox applets that streamed songs selections. They were pretty neat, but the company had broader visions for Shockwave initially and chose not to target the technology as a music streaming device at first.
Now that Shockwave and Flash have achieved that broad audience they are revisiting those larger niches they passed on before, and there is no larger growth nich right now than the budding Net music industry. As formats juggle to join MP3 as a digital music standard, Macromedia announces its entry which they are dubbing Shockwave Singles.
Beck inaugurates the company's first Shockwave single with Nicotine and Gravy, a track from his recent Midnight Vultures album, and showcases the graphical advantages of the format. If you can think of MP3 singles as a homemade cassette, then think of Shockwave singles as the store bought cassette complete with cover art and pull out liner notes.
The Beck piece opens with a short text bio of the artist with some basic track information and a picture of the musician. As you read, the music starts to load in the background.
Once loaded, the play button appears. Click on it and the music starts to play along with a montage animation that, in our opinion, was more interesting and creative than most of the videos you find on MTV.
The animation was in nice sync to the beat of the tune, which sounded quite good. Near the end of the tune, a graphic appeared with a link directing you to the official Beck website, a plus to marketing conscious labels who to date have been very wary of the whole digital download phenomenon unleashed by the rise of MP3 music.
Another draw for the major labels to Shockwave singles is they are not designed for download. The user can, if they really want to, but they need to set up a web page with the proper embed tag to play it, a relatively easy thing to do but something very few would take the time to bother.
If the record companies buy into it, expect Shockwave singles to find their
way to most music sites as an "endorsed" form of digital entertainment.
This is no small achievement as it gives them legal access to artists who, to
date, are available only by homegrown copies ripped from personal CD's. As record
labels struggle over which formats to safely release their music on, Shockwave
singles will certainly have a competitive edge if not their own niche.
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