EMI to offer music downloads

— 2:20 AM on November 15, 2002

It looks like EMI will become the latest record label to offer its music for download over the web. Unlike other labels and online music services, you'll actually be able to burn EMI's files to CD and use them on portable audio players. The Economist reports:

To make its service more appealing, from December 1st the company plans not only to allow music fans in America to “burn” a limited number of songs on to blank CDs; it says it will also let users listen to copyrighted recordings on portable players. To reach as wide an audience as possible, EMI is teaming up with nine distributors of digital music (among them FullAudio, Listen.com’s Rhapsody, MusicNet, pressplay, and Streamwaves). Customers will also get the chance to buy and download singles from forthcoming albums when they are played on the radio.
The ability to download singles as soon as they're released to radio rather than having to wait for the CD single or full album is actually what catches my eye the most here. There have been some really great one-hit wonders over the years, and many of those songs never make their way onto CD singles. Now, it looks like EMI is going to let you burn your own.

Whether or not EMI's bid appeals to consumers will likely depend on just how much each download costs, which brings up an interesting question. How much is a song worth? Should popular songs cost more than more obscure album filler because there's a greater demand? Is 15 minutes of Led Zeppelin's Kashmir worth more than 3 minutes of Dazed and Confused?

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