Play opens MP3 store

Online retailer has opened a DRM-free UK music downloads store, ahead of its rival Amazon.

Play opens MP3 store

But, in common with Apple’s iTunes Store, Play could only secure DRM-free content from EMI and independent labels, so its store has no content from the three majors: Universal, Warner and Sony BMG.

That is a strategy that worked well for Amazon, which by insisting that record labels provide their music without usage restrictions, soon persuaded Universal, Warner and Sony BMG to join EMI.

Whether it can work for the much smaller Play remains to be seen, but Wendy Snowdon, head of PlayDigital, is confident. “It is only a matter of time before the other labels embrace this, as it is what the music fans want” she says.

For now Play is selling EMI tracks, encoded as 320Kb/sec MP3 files plus music from independent labels at 192Kb/sec, which Snowdon said would soon be increased to the higher bitrate.

Prices are competitive, with tracks selling for as little as 65p and an average of 70p, while most albums are £6.99. That compares to 79p and £7.99 on iTunes, though the Apple tracks are encoded in the technically superior, if less widely supported, AAC format.

Amazon is expected to enter the UK market later this year, helping to ensure that the UK downloads market remains the most competitive outside the US.

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