During the first annual meeting of the Digital Data Exchange (DDEX), participants showed optimism that the music industry would adopt their standards which are designed to ease digital exchanges.

"We want to create a level of simplicity in an increasingly complex world," said DDEX chairman Chris Amenita, during the event in Paris on May 15.

The DDEX non-for-profit organization was formed in May 2006 "to explore, develop and maintain a robust framework of data exchange standards for information relating to digital media content, with an initial focus on music-related content".

Its members include big players from the recording industry as well as digital and mobile service providers such as Apple Computer Inc., Microsoft Corp., RealNetworks and Orange.

In October 2006, the organization issued a set of four standards to facilitate efficient information sharing among companies involved with digital music.

DDEX members are piloting these standards, a move which should lead to the launch of the second version of DDEX standards in June 2007.

DDEX members are confident this will mark the beginning of the worldwide adoption of their standards. According to Microsoft's Rich Lappenbusch, a member of the DDEX board, "2007 is the year DDEX is really going to take off."

Speaking with Billboard.biz, he said Microsoft could save millions of dollars a year by adopting DDEX standards with its music partners. He added that Microsoft and Sony BMG should have fully implemented DDEX standards in their exchanges by the end of 2007.

The optimism on DDEX also relies on its steadily growing membership, with DDEX welcoming one new member per month, according to member of the board Kirit Joshi, from Sony BMG.

To date, DDEX counts 43 members. While all four major companies have been involved since its inception, independent companies are slower to join up, although DDEX welcomed lately V2's Beth Appleton as a member of the board.

"Our future has to be merged together," summed-up Bernard Miyet, president and CEO of French Author right society Sacem, which hosted the meeting. " If we split in this fight, we will loose."

While DDEX members can have a direct impact on DDEX working agenda, the standards issues are licensable to any non-member for $200 a year.