SanDisk, record labels announce new format

Source: CNET

The ever-shrinking record album–its latest iteration being the compact disc–just got a lot more compact, or shall we say, micro.

Backed by four major music labels, SanDisk on Monday, September 22, 2008 will announce a new physical music format dubbed “SlotMusic” that’s essentially an entire album on a MicroSD compact memory card. Wal-Mart and Best Buy are among the retailers that have already signed on to start selling the cards for the upcoming holiday season.

With CD sales continuing to flounder, this latest effort to boost physical media sales is aimed at users of the millions of cell phones and MP3 players with MicroSD slots. They can insert the card right into the slot and immediately hear the music. The card will also come with a USB sleeve so it can be plugged in directly to any USB-enabled computer.

SlotMusic cards will be sold without digital rights management restrictions and in the form of MP3 files from EMI Music, Sony BMG, Universal Music Group, and Warner Music Group.

A joint press release from all the involved parties is scant on details about what will be released in SlotMusic format. But The Wall Street Journal, citing people close to the record companies and retailers, says the initial release batch will be 29 albums from all four of the involved labels. “The releases are mostly by current pop artists including Rihanna, Ne-Yo, Robin Thicke, New Kids on the Block, Weezer, Usher, Chris Brown, Akon and Leona Lewis,” the story stays. “In a nod to older buyers, Elvis Presley is also represented.”

Also not mentioned in the release is anything about pricing. The New York Times’ Saul Hansell, however, says a record label executive told him he estimates they’ll go for $7 to $10.

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It looks like the digital revolution is well underway, folks. I’ll be curious to see if this phenomenon catches on and everyone starts itching to have an album readily available to pop into their Blackberry. I don’t envision this being too big of a hit due to the format’s still requiring you to carry around a tangible product. Instead of carrying around a book of CDs, you’re now carrying around a plastic case with 10-15 microSD album cards. And if you’ve got a Blackberry like me, you’re not about to be disassembling your phone and pulling out your battery just so you can place the next microSD album in the memory card slot.

I give kudos to the idea, but I still see a subscription service (with artists’ being paid off of licensing) as the next wave of the music industry’s evolution. As a matter of fact, there’s a new format being pushed by a company called Aderra (www.aderra.net) that involves artists selling a USB bracelet at live shows that will have the live performance that the attendee just saw, along with the band’s most recent album(s), photos, and exclusive interview footage, music videos, and bonus tracks. Now THIS I see being a very wise move. And at $30 a piece, not only are you giving your fans great bang for their buck, but they still have to pay for a ticket to actually get to your show and see you rock it live.

I’m working on having Ed Donnelly–the creator of this idea and the president of Aderra–on the show when the stars and our calendars are able to align, so be sure to stay tuned for that…

Until next time, kiddos…

– AB

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