What Does MP3 Stand For

MP3 and sheet music

Just about everyone has an MP3 player (who uses CD's anymore really) and just about everyone has asked themselves at one time or another "what does MP3 stand for?"

So, What Does MP3 Stand For?

In the age of texting, instant messaging and the constant barrage of new technology, acronyms are just a part of our everyday lives. Some of these new acronyms are as necessary as SCUBA, back in the day-who really wants to say "Oh, I went on a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus dive while on vacation". Other acronyms, well, they're sort of making their way toward single handedly destroying the beauty of the English language, but that's a different story. Back to MP3, just like SCUBA, a necessary acronym and here is the answer to the question of what does MP3 stand for. Like much "computer-speak", it's confusing, so let's break it down:

  • MP - This stands for MPEG. An MPEG is a common file extension on a computer. MPEG, in this case, stands for Motion Picture Experts Group (though it can also stand for Multi-Purpose Experiment Gondola..whatever that is). Confused, well, here's an explanation of the MPEG:
    • An MPEG is a group of people working within the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). The ISO works toward the standardization and the IEC publishes these standards, which is why when reading about them, the two are grouped together as ISO/IEC.
  • 3 - This stands for Audio Layer 3. This is an audio compression format in which the sound of any given song is compressed to around 1/12 the original size of it's original format. Audio Layer 3 compression effectively the file while maintaining digital quality sound.

Putting it All Together

So, there's your answer to the burning question, what does MP3 stand for. Let's put it all together the long way here. It stands for: Motion Picture Experts Group Audio Layer 3. Saying MP3 is much easier right? Who wants to say "Yeah, my Motion Picture Experts Group Audio Layer 3 player was totally wiped out and I spent forever downloading my playlist back on to it." No one, that's who.

MP3's Fight with CD's

Ever since music was recorded, a battle begins every time a new and "improved" format is introduced. Here's a little glimpse of the ghosts of music formats past:

  • Vinyl to magnetic tape - Magnetic tape recordings are basically reel-to-reel, 8-Track and cassette tapes. If you're too young to know what reel-to-reel, 8-Track or cassette tapes are, go to a thrift store, some still have them there. If you've never listened to anything on vinyl, shame on you.
  • Cassette to CD - CD's were invented in 1965 and introduced to the public by Phillips in the early 1980's. Cassettes became a thing of the past.
  • CD to MP3 - In the early days, people would buy a CD, download it to their computer and share it with other people. Another way people shared their music was to buy a CD and burn it to a blank disc. Sounds good right? After all the price of a CD hasn't come down much in the past few decades when we all know that technology makes the cost of producing a CD much cheaper. It's paying the artists vast amounts of money, studio time charges and what not that keeps the price of CD's high for consumers. With MP3's, when downloaded legally via stores like Rhapsody and iTunes, it's about a buck per song (still cheap) and everyone is happy. Except those who don't sell their music via MP3 format, then they whine about CD sales being down.

So, there you have it. Now you know what MP3 stands for and got yourself a quick historical overview on recorded music formats over time. Not to belabor the subject of vinyl or anything, but every music lover should, at least once, listen to music played from a record, on a record player. Nothing, no matter how new or technologically advanced, compares to the warmth of music played on vinyl. Take a listen, you'll hear.

What Does MP3 Stand For