Apple has teamed up with its competitors and the music industry to establish a standards group for digital music.

The organisation is the Digital Data Exchange, (DDEX).

Apple, Microsoft and RealNetworks are part of DDEX, as are all four major labels as well as the Harry Fox Agency, the MCPS-PRS Alliance, Sociedad General de Autores y Editores and ASCAP. French royalty collection society SACEM seems set to join up soon.

The group's stated aims are:

  • To develop and maintain a robust framework of communication Standards to support the digital distribution of digital content with the initial focus on music and music-related assets;
  • To improve the efficiency of information sharing and transaction processing between participants in the music supply chain through use of Standards;
  • To promote global awareness and compliant implementation of these Standards.

Membership is open to any business with an interest in digital media content. Initially it focuses on companies with a music-focused business, such as labels, collection societies and digital music service providers.

"By working together and developing voluntary technical standards, we can harmonize and streamline the exchange of information relating to digital music," said Chris Amenita of ASCAP, who will chair DDEX.

The first Technical Workshop is scheduled for May 23-25.