Monday, August 13, 2007

Unprotected music coming from Universal

Universal Music Group (UMG) announced last week that it is continuing the testing of digital sales of tracks and albums without digital rights management (DRM) by making thousands of albums and tracks available in MP3 form without DRM enabling, for a limited time.

Performers include 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.

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.

MP3s can be played on a wide range of devices including dedicated MP3 players, mobile phones and the iPod. UMG said it will continue to support innovative digital models such as subscription and ad-supported services which rely on DRM as an enabling technology, regardless of the outcome of these tests.

Test market participants including Google, Wal-Mart, Best Buy Digital Music Store, Rhapsody, Transworld, Passalong Networks, and Puretracks, will offer downloads to consumers in the DRM-free audio format of their choice in a variety of bit rates.

In addition, DRM-free downloads will also be available through artist and label-branded websites, including,,,,,,, as well as, and

Universal Music Group has wholly owned record operations or licensees in 77 countries. Its businesses also include Universal Music Publishing Group, the industry’s largest music publishing operation.

Universal Music Group consists of record labels Decca Music 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.

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