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EMI Adds Ringo Starr To McCartney Downloads; DRM-Free Swells Sales

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Last month, EMI made Paul McCartney’s back-catalog available to digital music retailers; next up it’s Ringo Starr. EMI will give debut digital releases to four of Starr’s previous albums plus his forthcoming 20-track hits collection, Photograph: The Very Best Of Ringo Starr, on August 28. That means inclusion in the label’s higher-bitrate, DRM-free line-up as well. Six ringtones will also be released, along with CD and DVD issues. This means EMI will have issued digital tracks from 50 percent of The Beatles – but still no word on the full band’s repertoire. (EMI release).

Updated: Catching up — EMI’s digital sales appear significantly up after the introduction of DRM-free, hi-def files. SVP Lauren Berkowitz, at a NYC music industry gathering, singled out Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon as up 350 percent in the week after the range became available on iTunes Plus on May 31 — as of now, sales are up 272 percent (via Bloomberg/ArsTechnica). It’s not clear where it got the extra figures from (SoundScan?) but music biz blog Coolfer elaborates that the album has shifted 3,600 downloads in that time, against an average 830 per week over the previous 11 weeks. It says other digital albums showed increased sales, too — at the same time CD sales saw a dip. Some of this may be existing owners opting to upgrade their lower-quality downloads, rather than entirely new customers.