Out-of-print albums return exclusively online

LONDON, January 18, 2006 – The deeper vaults of the world’s largest music company are beginning to open for the digital download era.

Next month, Universal Music Group International (UMGI) takes the first steps in a major, multi-year programme to make more than 100,000 deleted European recordings available once more – exclusively as digital downloads.

These will be sourced from the company’s extensive archives, estimated to be the industry’s largest, and will be available in all UMGI territories.

The first batch of 3,000 download-only, back-catalogue recordings will come from the U.K., France and Germany. They feature such U.K. artists as Marianne Faithfull, Eddie & the Hot Rods, Fairport Convention, Brian Auger & Julie Driscoll, Nirvana, Chris DeBurgh, Gun and Big Country. From Continental Europe, artists include Jacques Brel, Nana Mouskouri, L’Affaire Louis Trio, Udo Lindenberg, Eddy Mitchell, Accept, Aphrodite’s Child, Noir Desir and even Brigitte Bardot. The repertoire spans the past 40 years.

The UMGI programme is open-ended, expected to extend well into the future and involve substantial investment, particularly for the excavation and digitisation of older, rare analogue material. Planned for delivery before the end of 2006 are thousands more deleted tracks.

“Over the next three to four years, we aim to reissue perhaps as many as 10,000 albums for downloading, which amounts to more than 100,000 tracks,” says Barney Wragg, senior vice president of UMGI’s eLabs division, “and this programme will offer material that, in some cases, goes back to the early days of recorded music.”

The tracks will be supplied to all UMGI’s online business partners, and the first batch is expected to be made available by digital stores to consumers from mid-February onwards.

The unlimited storage capacity of the Internet has frequently been represented as the opportunity for record companies to dig deeper into their archives, to reissue specialist, vintage or hard-to-find music online, as well as the hits of the day.

Barney Wragg says, “This ‘digital archeology’ programme represents a serious commitment to go further into the past, and to begin to take advantage of the benefits for artists and for music fans of digital download technology. Hopefully, the first round of recordings selected for this initiative will start to satisfy consumer demand, as more and more people buy their music online.”

Universal Music Group International was the first major music company to digitise its entire active European catalogue, which saw the delivery in early 2004 of approximately 300,000 tracks from more than 25,000 albums to the company’s online business partners.

About Universal Music Group

Universal Music Group is the world’s largest music company with wholly owned record operations or licensees in 75 countries. Its businesses also include Universal Music Publishing Group, one of the industry’s largest global music publishing operations. Universal Music Group International is the division that manages UMG’s businesses in countries outside of North America.

Universal Music Group consists of record labels Decca Music Group, Deutsche Grammophon, Interscope Geffen A&M Records, Geffen Records, Island Def Jam Music Group, Lost Highway Records, Machete Music, MCA Nashville, Mercury Nashville, Mercury Records, Philips, Polydor Records, Universal Music Latino, Universal Motown Records Group, 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 catalogue 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.

Universal Music Group is a unit of Vivendi Universal, a global media and communications company.