Amazon MP3 Store En Route; Universal To Expand Tests Of DRM-Free Music Files: Report

Amazon is aiming for launch of an MP3 download store in May, according to Billboard sources. Also, Universal Music Group is expected to expand its DRM-free tests because by selling through Amazon and other online outlets; it’s not known whether iTunes will be one of them. Universal has tested the sale of DRM-free music in the past with artists such as Christian pop singer Jesse McCartney in the U.S. and French acts Superbus and Emilie Simon in Europe. It appears that this initial expansion of its DRM-free offerings will focus on Universal’s classic music catalog, which includes Andrea Bocelli. Universal is still considering what other genres it will offer in this non-copy protected format.

Universal’s expansion would come on the heels of EMI’s announcement that it will begin releasing unprotected digital music files via iTunes. So far, Sony BMG Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group are unwilling to embrace selling their catalogs as unprotected MP3s. For the moment, as Billboard notes, it’s the wait and see approach: the main questions centers on whether MP3s will expand digital sales and whether it will fuel illegal file-sharing and cannibalization of other digital formats such as ringtones.

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