Warner Music International (WMI), a division of Warner Music Group and 7digital.com, a digital media delivery company, have announced that MP3 music audio downloads from Warner Music are now available to 7digital customers in the UK, Ireland, Spain, France and Germany. Beginning today, 7digital will be the first major European download store to offer Warner Music tracks in the MP3 file format, which is compatible with virtually any digital music device.
In addition, 7digital and Warner will work in partnership to offer a range of digital music products such as value-added album bundles that contain additional content. 7digital.com will build and maintain dedicated artist or label pages which Warner Music labels and artists can edit remotely in order to provide fans the latest offerings and artist-related updates.
MacDailyNews Take: “Value-added album bundles.” As we’ve said many times, as recently as last November: The album is an artificial construct developed by the music cartels to get more of your money for less effort. The album is – plain and simple – a bundling technique. Take some marketable material, add a greater percentage of filler, call it an “album,” pretend it’s “art,” and charge more than you could charge for just the worthwhile bits. While some small percentage of artists throughout the history of the album construct have taken the concept to an art form and more than few music customers have bought so fully into the marketing construct as to defend it passionately today, that does not change the fact that the “album” is a product bundle designed to collect more money for the good stuff by bundling it with a greater percentage of filler.
7digital has launched a major promotion around Warner Music content, backed by an online marketing campaign. 7digital will make selected albums from Warner Music’s world-class repertoire available for a limited period at the price of £5/€6.99.
John Reid, Vice Chairman, WMI & President, Warner Music Europe, said in the press release, “This deal will offer music fans a new level of flexibility in their use of tracks from our world-renowned artists. We believe that providing consumers with this assurance of interoperability will encourage sales of music downloads and ultimately help the development of new digital music experiences. This agreement will not only enhance 7digital.com’s service and expand our digital footprint but also benefit artists and music fans alike.”
Eric Daugan, Vice President, Digital Business, WMI, said in the press release, “In 7digital.com we have an agile, innovative and growing partner who will offer us new, improved retail and promotional opportunities across key parts of Western Europe. We look forward to working with them to provide consumers with an even wider choice of content-rich digital products that will further deepen the relationship between our artists and their fans.”
Ben Drury, CEO, 7digital.com, said in the press release, “7digital.com is excited to be Warner Music’s first major partner in Europe to bring MP3s to the marketplace. Our 1.2 million registered customer base has proved to us that MP3s sell very well and MP3 is currently the format of choice for digital media consumers. The addition of Warner Music’s MP3 catalogue to 7digital.com means that over 80% of 7digital.com’s 3.5 million track catalogue is now DRM-free. 7digital.com is committed to becoming the destination for MP3s and we plan to make our entire music catalogue available in DRM-free, high-quality MP3 format by summer 2008.”
Warner Music continues to grow its digital distribution footprint and diversify the services that it delivers to its artists across online and mobile platforms. Warner Music also has strategic partnerships in place that help it reach new audiences around the world including Asia, Latin America, Europe and Africa.
In 2007, 7digital.com saw year-on-year sales grow 188%, with DRM-free MP3 downloads out-selling other digital formats by almost four to one (where MP3 is offered alongside WMA and AAC). In order to meet the increasing demand for DRM-free downloads, 7digital.com is expanding overseas. A recent VC investment of £4.25 million will be used to expand 7digital.com’s offering internationally.
MacDailyNews Take: More good news: DRM-free is good and so is competition (if it’s any good at all). We just wish they’d use the superior AAC instead of the ancient MP3 format* for their DRM-free music.
We do not believe that Steve Jobs really cares if you buy tunes at 7digital or iTunes, as long as you don’t buy something encoded with Microsoft DRM and as long as you play it on Apple hardware (Macs, iPods, iPhones, Apple TV). It’d be nice if you used iTunes Store, as most people do (despite the existence already of MP3, DRM-free stores from the likes of Amazon), but buying from iTunes Store not at all essential to Apple’s success.
*AAC (Advanced Audio Coding codec or MPEG-4 Audio) provides higher-quality results with smaller file sizes and better decoding efficiency (requiring less processing power for decode) than the old MP3 format. More info here.