In yet more progress on the music download front, Universal Music Group will let consumers preview and buy online an array of roster artists nominated for the upcoming Grammy awards.
U.S. consumers will be able to buy a Universal Grammy-nominated artist's soundtrack for 99 cents or the album for $9.99. The program, called the Grammy Digital Download, aims to widen Universal's distribution channels.
This development by the world's No. 1 music company comes the same week the recording industry announced the launch of an identification system to simplify the online sale of music. Called Global Release Identifier, the standard is similar to the Universal Product Code bar code found on CDs and tapes sold in stores.
The electronic identifier will be able to track and identify what music has been created, assigned, licensed and distributed. It can recognize singles, album tracks, groups of tracks and multimedia releases that are distributed online. This will help Universal with its Grammy-linked venture.
Universal will sell the music through retail, college and music sites as well as its own umgdownloads.com location. Artists include Diana Krall, Willie Nelson, U2, Natalie Cole, Eminem, Jay-Z, Lucinda Williams, Mary J. Blige, Ashanti, India.Arie and Sheryl Crow.
A national marketing campaign with print, radio, online and in-store ads will promote the program. Online contests will support with prizes like memorabilia and a trip for two to Universal Studios in Orlando, FL.
Grammy Digital Download comes nearly three months after Universal began online sales from its music catalog.
Technology from Liquid Audio let Universal offer more than 60,000 tracks online in genres like rock, jazz, pop, R&B, country and blues. The music downloads are burnable to CD and transferable to portable devices. Purchases can be made in Liquid Audio and Windows Media formats.