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A new music file format has become the latest to try to supersede the basic MP3, promising licensed files will have "tangible benefits" over pirated tracks for the first time.

MusicDNA has been developed by Dagfinn Bach, part of the team that developed the current de facto standard at the Fraunhofer Institute 20 years ago. Bach's firm, Bach technologies, launched the new format at the music industry annual Midem conference in Cannes.

However, so far MusicDNA has signed up only a handful of independent labels and minority retailers, suggesting it could be yet another failed attempt to overthrow basic MP3.

MusicDNA files will be backwards compatible with existing MP3 players, so will offer no improvement in sound quality. Bach is instead pinning the format's hopes on metadata such as "lyrics, artwork and tour dates to blog posts, videos and Twitter feeds".

In what is claimed as MusicDNA's main advantage over illegally downloaded MP3s, the metadata of licensed files can be automatically updated whenever a player is connected to the internet. Labels will also have the option of providing user-customisable content.

Despite launching without crucial major label support, Bach Technologies said it expects to make more announcements soon, and is in the "midst of talks with potential partners from across all sectors of the business, including the major labels and leading digital service providers".

The MusicDNA player will launch in beta around Easter, with a commercial rollout in summer. ®

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