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Getting Ampd

This is Celia Hirschman with On the Beat on KCRW.

As the digital world continues to unfold before our eyes, it's becoming increasingly apparent to the record business that we're not in Kansas anymore. The subsequent implications of living in the digital age have had enormous and far reaching consequences for a business previously built on controlling the artists' spin and staying on message.

It's no longer just about whether one likes a particular piece of music, but rather how one experiences it. Today's digital adventurer is looking for a different kind of auditory interaction. First he wants to enjoy the hands on experience of music discovery. Perhaps he enjoys traveling thru MySpace, iTunes, and eMusic as part of his globetrotting. Or maybe he's podcasting or streaming radio to stay current with the latest sound. Once he finds music he wants, a whole new set of criteria enter the picture. His goal to download the track, share it with friends and take it on the road may be hamstrung by device incompatibilities. Though our hero wants his music on as many devices and platforms as possible, convenience and scalability are often difficult if not impossible. Add to that today's digital rights management limitations, and downloading music from the wrong site or with the wrong player could cost you access, portability and longevity.

In this new paradigm of delivering entertainment, the record business is really small potatoes. Today's entertainment business is building a lateral media platform, where music, videos, documentaries, features, television shows, radio stations, viral and home videos can live together on a common system. The company that delivers a full menu of entertainment with portability and longevity will win.

Disguised as a telecom, Ampd is the most forward-thinking digital-entertainment company in the arena. As a matter of full disclosure, Amp'd Mobile has become an underwriter of KCRW.

Targeting young male professionals and early adopters 18 to 35, Ampd is taking an aggressive stance on digital mobile. Owned by MTV and Universal Music, the new company is offering customers a wide variety of digital entertainment. Ampd offers multiple network and cable television channels, animation from the biggest houses, numerous sports events, games, radio and podcasting. In addition, you can download and listen to a full array of music from the biggest artists to the most obscure indy rock bands. And there are photo images from Maxim, Suicide Girls and Playboy, as well as weather, traffic and a navigation system.

This is a dream come true for a lot of guys I know.

Ampd is not the only one delivering value on a telephone. On Monday, Verizon announced their latest new phone, The Chocolate, from the handset maker LG. The Chocolate looks the size of a candy bar, feels like an Ipod and can hold up to 1,000,000 songs. Built to take on the iPod, The Chocolate interface is not as user friendly as Ampd, but is getting closer to that destination all the time.

With many music consumers sharply shifting how they listen to music, it's refreshing to see consumer electronics companies rise to the demand. Suddenly, talking on the phone will never be the same.

This is Celia Hirschman with On the Beat for KCRW.

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