Infrastructure for the Celestial Jukebox

  • Burkart P
  • McCourt T
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The vision of a dynamic and intelligent Celestial Jukebox, in which any cultural artifact is available to dedicated appliances or home computers via wired or wireless channels, animates many predictions for the future of media delivery. The chief proponents of this vision are transnational media firms selling hardware, software and content. Despite a prolonged downturn in the global economy for media and software, the technical and legal design of the Celestial Jukebox nears completion. We examine the development and implications of the Jukebox as it is manifested in several online music services available to US consumers (which we term Music Service Providers, or MSPs), in which the 'Big Five' record companies (Universal, Sony, Warner, BMG and EMI) provide content and/or hold equity stakes. First, we identify and describe the Celestial Jukebox's key technical components - Customer Relationship Management ('eCRM' or 'CRM') and Digital Rights Management ('DRM') software-and their intermeshing characteristics. We then discuss the implementation of CRM/DRM in MSPs and list the primary stakeholders in the leading MSP systems. We conclude with a discussion of the MSPs' role in advancing what Vincent Mosco terms a 'pay-per' society, in which cultural goods are purchased on a transitory, rather than permanent, basis.

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  • Patrick Burkart

  • Tom McCourt

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