Warner to Enable the CD Burning of Its Songs
Internet: Company will make recordable format standard and offer more of its catalog as singles.
By JON HEALEY, TIMES STAFF WRITER
In the latest record-industry concession to consumer
demand, Warner Music Group plans to offer tens of thousands of songs through the Internet in a format that can be burned to CD.
The announcement by Warner and online distributor RioPort Inc. is a significant change for Warner. Not only is it making more of its catalog available as singles--more than 30,000 songs instead of the current 300--it is enabling CD burning as a standard feature.
Warner's move mirrors announcements this year from Universal Music Group and Sony Music, which pledged to make tens of thousands of songs available as downloadable singles in formats that allow burning. Songs from all three companies also are expected to sell for 99 cents to $1.50, less than the labels initially sought to charge for downloadable music.
Burgeoning Internet piracy is pushing the labels to offer consumers something more compelling than their initial online collections. Consumers showed little interest in the major labels' first downloadable singles, largely because of the high price, limited selection and cumbersome electronic locks that prevented songs from being copied, moved to portable devices or recorded onto CD.
The new lineup of Warner songs will still have electronic locks, but buyers will be able to record the songs onto a standard CD, effectively removing the limitations. The label expects to make available all songs to which it has digital rights, which probably will leave out Madonna and a few other top artists.
The songs are slated to hit the market this month through RioPort's online retail partners, which include BestBuy.com, MTV.com and HP.com.