Sony BMG MP3s to be available at

[13 January 2008]

By David B. Wilkerson

MarketWatch (MCT)

CHICAGO - Sony BMG Music Entertainment said Friday its music will be available in MP3 downloads from later this month without digital rights management restrictions.

Sony BMG becomes the last of the four major music labels to offer DRM-free music at Amazon, joining Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group and EMI.

Sony BMG is a 50/50 joint venture between Sony and privately held Bertelsmann AG.

“We are constantly exploring new ways of making our music available to consumers in the physical space, over the Internet and through mobile phones, and this initiative is the newest element of our ongoing campaign to bring our music to fans wherever they happen to be,” said Thomas Hesse, president of global digital business and U.S. sales for Sony BMG, in a statement.

Sony BMG’s massive roster of artists includes Beyonce Knowles, Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, Al Green, Aretha Franklin and Carlos Santana.

Since the emergence of Apple Computer Corp.‘s iTunes platform in 2001, the major music labels have scrambled to make their music available via digital download, as sales of CDs have been in steady decline.

Amazon MP3, launched last September, now offers more than 3.1 million songs from more than 270,000 artists. The downloads can be made using any hardware device, including PCs, Macs, iPods, Zunes, iPhones, BlackBerrys and more.

Most songs are priced from 89 cents to 99 cents, with full albums selling from $5.99 to $9.99.

Sony’s U.S.-listed shares closed at $55.30 on Friday, down 2 percent. Amazon shares dropped nearly 4 percent to $81.08.

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