Companies Joining To Push Music On Memory Cards
September 22, 2008 at 5:16 AM (PT)
Just as vinyl once gave way to compact discs as the main physical medium for music, could CDs be replaced now by a fingernail-sized memory card?
Perhaps not entirely, but SANDISK CORP., four major record labels and retailers BEST BUY CO. and WAL-MART STORES INC. are hoping that albums sold on microSD memory cards will at least provide an additional stream of sales. The companies were expected to unveil plans MONDAY to sell memory cards loaded with music in the mp3 format, free of copy protections.
Called "SLOTMUSIC," the new format is meant to address two intertwined trends. Most albums are still sold in a physical format -- 449 million were sold on CDs in 2007, while 50 million were sold digitally -- yet CDs are decreasingly popular. Albums sold on CD dropped almost 19% last year.
Given this, the record labels, UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP, SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT, WARNER MUSIC GROUP CORP. and EMI GROUP PLC., are hoping SLOTMUSIC can be another physical revenue source, and one that is more versatile than CDs, given the kinds of gadgets people carry around these days.
Unlike when the CD was introduced and people had to buy new players, many people already have the ability to play SLOTMUSIC albums, since many cell phones and multimedia players that support microSD cards.
UMG EVP/ELABS RIO CARAEFF said the label will initially release about 30 titles in the SLOTMUSIC format. The titles will include old and new albums, such as one by singer AKON. "We want to provide the benefits of digital music to people who go to physical retail environments," he said. Asked whether he sees the format taking the place of the CD, CARAEFF said, "We would certainly hope that would be the case, but I don't think we are so tied to that."