EN: "EMI's philosophy and, indeed, strategy echoes that spirit. We're committed to embracing change and to developing products and services that consumers really want to buy, in our determination to drive our digital music business. In short, we're focusing on giving consumers a compelling experience. Such a proposition in digital music we believe has three important components:
- "First, it needs to be good value for money
- "Secondly, it needs to offer choice
- "Thirdly, it needs to be simple to understand and easy to use
EN: "At EMI we are guided by these three principles as we strive to build robust, effective and successful digital music services, to connect fans with our artists' music.
Interoperability is key
EN: "Now the new product I'm about to unveil embodies these principles, and most importantly gives consumers what they want. In all of our research consumers have said overwhelmingly that they're prepared to pay a higher price for a digital music file that they could use on any player. It's clear to us that interoperability is important to music buyers and is a key to unlocking and energising the digital business.
EN: "In January we ran a number of tests with DRM-free downloads of music from selected leading artists. In these tests we made available standard quality downloads and higher quality downloads at a premium price. The results were resoundingly clear, with the higher quality tracks outselling standard by ten to one, reaffirming our belief that sound fidelity is, for many, an important factor.
EN: "So ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to announce a new offering of premium digital downloads. New premium downloads will have two key features that distinguish them from our standard downloads:
- "First, they will be free from digital rights management or DRM-free, for short.
- "Secondly, they will have vastly improved sound quality.
Tracks, albums and videos too
EN: "The higher quality, DRM-free downloads will be sold at a wholesale price premium to standard downloads when delivered individually, while premium albums - also in higher quality and DRM-free - will be supplied at the same wholesale price at the standard downloads currently.
EN: "Since the digital download business started, many people have talked about the device of the album, that customers will cherry-pick their favourite tracks and will no longer want to buy full albums. At EMI we believe the body of work an artist produces is still very important for many fans. Our experience to date tells us that there remains a high interest in full albums. At the same time many do indeed prefer to buy individual tracks.
EN: "So EMI's new premium digital downloads will sit alongside our existing standard offerings, and consumers can choose according to their preferences. And if their preference is for the premium product, we also want to provide them with a facility to upgrade the EMI tracks they've already bought.
EN: "In addition to the premium audio products, we'll be removing DRM from video downloads.
First downloads available today
EN: "These new products will allow fans to buy new music from any retail location that stocks them and, crucially, listen to that music on the device and platform of their choice. As a shining example, and to get the ball rolling, the brand new single from The Good, The Bad & The Queen album - along with the album - will be available from today on the band's website in high quality MP3 format. The MP3 files purchased from The Good, The Bad & The Queen can be used on any digital music device, including music-enabled mobile phones.
EN: "So today we'll be making our entire catalogue of digitally available songs, albums and new releases accessible to our retail partners worldwide in both the standard and premium versions.
EN: "I'm delighted to announce that the first partner to support these products is Apple's iTunes.
EN: "Apple has a long history of developing ground-breaking products and services. The introduction of iTunes just under four years ago changed the landscape of the music business forever.
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