The MP3 format created a storm in the digital music space. Since the early 2000s, it has been the most popular audio format, making it so convenient to store music on smartphones that it replaced CD, radio, and tape.
However, there was news that the MP3 format would soon become redundant, but the era of this audio format is still ongoing. there are other audio formats available today, especially the M4A. However, the problem with M4A files is that they are difficult to stream and are primarily used on Apple devices. Therefore, people generally convert M4A files to MP3 because the latter can be played on most devices.
MP3 Format: Dead or Alive?
The MP3 format was developed in the late 1980s and standardized in the early 1990s. However, it was nearly abandoned as a technology in 1995, and despite heavy investment from the Fraunhofer institute, MP3 was deemed commercially unsuccessful.
However, the format was not dead and found early commercial success in the sports broadcast sector. Broadcasters saved thousands with this compressed digital audio in satellite transmission costs. But the format continued to be unpopular in commercial music apps, so the developers effectively gave the audio format away for free.
Towards the end of 1996, the format was abandoned again in favor of the AAC format. This format was developed by the same development team behind the MP3, and AAC was supposed to overcome the technical limitations of the MPEG-1 standard. Unfortunately, although AAC performs better than MP3, the format did not manage to overthrow the popularity of MP3 when file sharing Internet websites rose to glory.
Napster was one of the first peer-to-peer networks to take the craze of MP3 files to the next level. Next, WinAmp followed it, and then iPod MP3 became the choicest portable music-listening device.
By this time, the MP3 format has already proliferated the music industry for good. The format became ubiquitous, and portable MP3 players started debuting to boost the format’s popularity.
The reasons why the MP3 format continues to be relevant are:
- The format makes it easy to share music with friends and family. The MP3 format is compatible across most platforms and devices. So whether you are downloading music from the web or sharing audio files, you need this format.
- The MP3 format is a part of online streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music. Their extensive music libraries are filled with MP3 audio files that users can download or stream online.
- The MP3 file size is comparatively smaller, making it easier for musicians to upload their files on the web and popular streaming services.
Although Fraunhofer has terminated the licensing program for this format, the MP3 file continues to live on and will be relevant in 2023 and beyond. The format might be unsupported by the developers, but it is unrestricted by licenses and patents.
What’s the Verdict?
The MP3 format is not dead, and you can download, share or upload MP3 files across the web. Furthermore, these files can be played easily on any platform and device.
However, you can consider checking out new and improved formats like the M4A, as it uses a lossless ALAC codec. You can even convert the M4A files to MP3 using online converters that are available for free.
Furthermore, the AAC format is regarded as the successor of the MP3 format, and it can achieve better sound quality at the same bitrates and smaller file sizes. For example, AAC at 256kbps is comparable to MP3 at 320kbps. Also, AAC encodes frequencies while MP3’s cutoff is 20kHz. However, the drawback of AAC is that the format is not widely adopted yet, and not all media devices support this format. Therefore, if compatibility is the primary concern, then MP3 is the go-to audio format and is the better choice.
The shift toward AAC and other advanced audio formats is inevitable in the future, but MP3 hasn’t yet started declining. So if you are an audiophile or a musician in 2023, don’t get rid of your MP3 files or portable MP3 players. The format still has a few good years, and you don’t need to trouble yourself with the rumors. There’s still time for an audio format to overthrow MP3, which will only happen when the new format is compatible across the web and devices.
In 2023, the MP3 format will remain relevant. It will even reign supreme beyond 2023 because new formats take time to be adopted. MP3 has already created a comfortable space for itself, taking the online streaming industry by storm. It makes sharing music easy, and also uploading music files is a breeze if it is in MP3.
So do not think twice about using the MP3 format for your future audio projects.