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Conference Asks What's Next For Digital Music

With the recent flood of media attention on such companies as Napster and MP3.com, digital media is a hot topic right now. This past weekend, musicians, music industry leaders and music lovers met to discuss the evolution of music into the digital era at the Change Music Conference in Seattle.

The conference was brought to Seattle by the CMJ network, a media company dealing with digital music, related software and information.

According to Robert Haber founder and CEO of the CMJ network, "Change Music Seattle provides forward thinking music professionals and the movers in today's rapid digital development world a superb meeting ground to discuss all the ramifications of the ever-expanding technological revolution."

The conference featured a number of speakers and panels dealing with issues in digital music.

Among the highlights were the Keynote address, given by CEO of Loudeye.com Martin Tobias and a panel discussion entitled "Virtual Highways & Real Buyways: Sales & Distribution in the new Digital Economy."

Tobias discussed the exciting role Seattle can play in the convergence of technology and new music.

"Where else would you see the CEO of a public company wearing a chain on their wallet and wearing the shirt of a band whose members work for us?" asked Tobias

The CEO discussed the amazing growth of the digital music industry, and shared some insight as to the industries future direction.

Among his predictions for the future were: satellite broadcast radio, subscription music services across many platforms, and the growth of the market for everyone involved.

With the RIAA/Napster case on the minds of many, Tobias noted that although he felt Napster was in clear violation of copyright laws, the record companies should explore other options that would expand their reach, instead of simply shutting the Napsters of the world down.

The morning panel consisted of business leaders from Real.com, Window's Media Player, HearMusic.com, Djanos.com, and Supertracks.

With a diverse range of opinions, one clear similarity emerged: digital media has come, and it will only grow from here.

"The vast majority aren't really in a position to enjoy it yet, but I think that will change very rapidly," says David Kaill from the Microsoft Window's Media Player group.



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