In yesterday’s New York Times, I found an article entitled “A Boxed Set in One File? Online Music Finds a Way”, on the front page of the Arts section. It described a new kind of technology that was promising to threaten the livelihood of record companies. Evil on-line music traders were using this technology to exchange not just singleton songs, but entire albums, complete with cover art.

What was this new threat to world order? What was this new technology which was causing record labels to tremble, and might cause thousands of innocent children of music industry executives to starve?

Zip archives.

Yup, that’s right. Zip files. Apparently some users have taken to putting all of the mp3 files from a single album together, thrown in a gif or a jpeg file of the cover art, maybe a text file containing the lyrics, and then put it altogether into single zip file. Oh, horrors!

One of my favorite quotes in the articles was from a music executive who at Maverick Records, who said that he had never heard of zip files. “The tech kids are moving much faster than we are. By the time we agree on anything, it’s already seven years old.”

Hmm…. if zip files is new technology to the Music Industry, maybe that’s why they’re having problems coming up with an on-line music service that (a) doesn’t have a pathetic collection, and (b) isn’t way more expensive than buying the physical CD at full retail prices.

I am a bit surprised that the New York Times thought this was news, though. I suppose no one in the Arts department talked to the folks who right the Technology section.