PRINT April 1999

Rachel Greene and Alex Galloway

WHAT KEEPS THE MANAGERS of the Backstreet Boys and ’N Sync awake at night? Nothing. But what should have them on their toes? Two new musical economies on the Internet that are morphing if not revolutionizing the music industry: MP3 and net radio. After “pussy,” MP3 tops the list of most queried words at Internet search engines, and it seems to be causing as much havoc among commercial media as its X-rated competition. A new high-fidelity format for compressing data, MP3 is fast and flexible and has spawned countless virtual listening communities. MP3 music can be netcast, downloaded, copied, pirated, and sent around the world.
Less anarchic than MP3, net radio relies on RealAudio’s streaming technology to broadcast everything from political propaganda to the latest DJ mixes. Net radio is streamed directly to the listener, much like conventional radio (but without ruffling the airwaves). Together these two formats threaten to cut out the middleman. Here are the basics:

Rachel Greene and Alex Galloway are the editors of Rhizome, a new media art publication at