Saturday, October 20, 2007

Universal, EMI, Warner to sell singles on USB drives

In the latest move by record labels desperate to convince themselves they're up-to-date with what the kids deem cool, and at the same time try and prevent the death of the single, three big record labels have announced that from as early as October 29, they will start releasing singles on USB drives at £4.99 - for now it seems the format is being trialled in the UK, with the rest of the world to follow if the model proves successful.

According to Brian Rose, the commercial director for the UK division of Universal Music, where the USB singles will be trialled, the drives are "aimed at the younger, 12- to 24-year-olds, who no longer believe that the CD is as cool as it used to be".

While this claim may have some validity, this seems an odd move to make. Given that to play the music, you need a computer, a large portion of their target audience would already have an iPod or some other portable device, and a large percentage of those people, if they did want a single, would be able to buy it from iTunes for £0.99. So what's the sweetener?

Apparently, the USB drive will have 'bonus content' on them, which I assume will include a ringtone and wallpaper - I realise the ringtone market is highly lucrative, but what kid is going to want to have a drawer full of low-capacity USB drives sitting around?

I just hope the record labels have a recycling plan for when everyone has copied the music off their USBsingle.

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