An alliance of music labels, retailers and a flash card vendor plans to offer pre-loaded, high quality, DRM-free MP3 music of top artists to consumers on microSD cards – called slotMusic cards – this holiday season.
The partnership includes the struggling music labels EMI, Universal Music, Sony BMG and Warner Music, retailers like Best Buy and Wal-Mart and flash card vendor SanDisk.
slotMusic cards will initially be sold at brick-and-mortar and online stores in the U.S. and then launch in Europe.
The list of slotMusic albums, availability and pricing were not disclosed but the alliance said they would be announced before the coming holiday season.
Consumers can insert the slotMusic card into their microSD-enabled mobile phone, MP3 player or PC to hear the music.
An Internet connection will not be required to listen to the music on the slotMusic cards, which will include a tiny USB sleeve to enable them to be played on Windows, Linux and Mac PCs.
The participants in the initiative are promising that users won’t require passwords, downloading or digital-rights-management for their personal use.
The MP3-based music tracks are to be played back at up to 320 kilobytes per second (kbps), which is said to offer a high quality music experience for the MP3 format.
For the last few years, music sales on CDs and DVDs have been falling for various reasons – high prices, piracy, DRM restrictions and popularity of digital downloads of services like Apple’s iTunes that lets consumers buy single 99-cent tracks.
slotMusic Cards will have Limited Appeal
Since Apple’s popular iPods and iPhone lack a microSD card slot, the slotMusic cards will not be compatible with those devices reducing the appeal of the new cards.
Unless the slotMusic cards are priced low, we remain skeptical that they will be a big success given that consumers can already download music on the go, can download music to their mobile devices at home, can copy music from CDs to their devices/microSD cards or sign up for subscription services like Rhapsody.