CHART-TOPPING HITS MARK OPEN-MP3 TEST BY UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP
MARKET LEADER REMOVES DRM PROTECTION IN THOUSANDS OF TITLES DURING TEST
PARTICIPANTS INCLUDE GOOGLE, BEST BUY, RHAPSODY, AMAZON.COM, WAL-MART & PURETRACKS, AMONG OTHERS
New York, New York, August 10, 2007 – Universal Music Group (UMG), the world’s leading music company, today announced that it is continuing the testing of digital sales of tracks and albums without digital rights management (DRM) by making thousands of its albums and tracks available from its digital repertoire in MP3 form without DRM enabling, for a limited time.
“Universal Music Group is committed to exploring new ways to expand the availability of our artists’ music online, while offering consumers the most choice in how and where they purchase and enjoy our music,” stated Doug Morris, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of UMG. “This test, which is a continuation of a series of tests that UMG began conducting earlier in the year, will provide valuable insights into the implications of selling our music in an open format.
As UMG’s most comprehensive and extensive testing to date, the experiment will run from August to January and analyze such factors as consumer demand, price sensitivity and piracy in regards to the availability of open MP3s.
MP3s can be played on a full range of devices including dedicated MP3 players, mobile phones and the iPod. Regardless of the outcome of these tests, UMG will continue to support innovative digital models such as subscription and ad-supported services which rely on DRM as an enabling technology.
Albums and tracks that will be available during this test run the gamut from artists such as Amy Winehouse, Fall Out Boy, 50 Cent, Black Eyed Peas, Daddy Yankee, Mika, The Pussycat Dolls, Gwen Stefani, Maroon 5, Dr. Dre, Don Omar, Sting, Sugarland, Diana Krall, Paulina Rubio, Shania Twain, Nelly and Prince, to Bing Crosby, Elvis Costello, Reba McEntire, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Stevie Wonder, Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline, among many others.
Participants including Google, Wal-Mart, Best Buy Digital Music Store, Rhapsody, Transworld, Passalong Networks, Amazon.com and Puretracks, will offer downloads to consumers in the DRM-free audio format of their choice in a variety of bit rates. For the most part, the DRM free downloads will be offered at standard wholesale prices.
As part of this test, Universal will also be driving traffic to DRM-free downloads using Google’s AdWords™ advertising program. Google ads will connect consumers directly to digital retailer gBox, Inc. (www.gbox.com) download store making the search and buying process as simple as possible. Because many consumers are searching for music and music related news and information online, Google is a powerful way to drive consumers to this test.
In addition, DRM-free downloads will also be available through artist and label-branded websites, including sum41.com, evefans.com, www.common-music.com, ryan-adams.com, blaqkaudio.com, dianakrall.com, sectionquartet.com, as well as defjam.com, islandrecords.com and classicsandjazz.co.uk, among many others.
About Universal Music Group
Universal Music Group is the world’s leading music company with wholly owned record operations or licensees in 77 countries. Its businesses also include Universal Music Publishing Group, the industry’s largest global music publishing operations.
Universal Music Group consists of record labels Decca Label Group, Deutsche Gramophone, Interscope Geffen A&M Records, Geffen Records, Island Def Jam Music Group, Lost Highway Records, MCA Nashville, Mercury Nashville, Mercury Records, Philips, Polydor Records, Universal Music Latino, Universal Motown Records Group, Universal South Records and Verve Music Group, as well as a multitude of record labels owned or distributed by its record company subsidiaries around the world. The Universal Music Group owns the most extensive catalog of music in the industry, which is marketed through two distinct divisions, Universal Music Enterprises (in the U.S.) and Universal Strategic Marketing (outside the U.S.). Universal Music Group also includes eLabs, a new media and technologies division, and Universal Music Mobile.
Universal Music Group is a unit of Vivendi, a global media and communications company.