The ubiquitous MP3 is far from the only music file format, but it's become a shorthand for the category. Pitchfork has interviewed McGill University professor Jonathan Sterne about his book MP3: The Meaning of a Format, a history of how the format was developed, what it's meant for music collecting and file-sharing, and where it's headed. The way the MP3 was tested, Sterne says, meant that it "doesn't conform to universals of human hearing, but does conform very well to the record industry. In other words, a small number of mastering engineers have determined what good recordings will sound like." Even MP3s that are described as capturing "pure" music or voice involve processing that sound in a specific way. Sterne doesn't think the MP3 is going away until we've moved beyond the current system of computers and music platforms, so go ahead and read what he has to say about format testing, the MP3 as a social object, and how the format helped fuel an entire high-tech industry.
Piracy, virtual record collections, and how the MP3 changed music
Piracy, virtual record collections, and how the MP3 changed music/
Professor Jonathan Sterne talks about his research on the history of the MP3, including how it was developed and the effect of file-sharing on high-tech industries.