Warner to detail digital music service today

Catches up with rest of the 'big five'

The last of the world's 'big five' recording companies to unveil a digital music distribution service, Warner Music, will do just that later today, according to 'leaks' to the major news media.

The Warner service follows the pattern laid down by EMI, Sony, Universal and BMG: a heap of albums and singles will be offered via the Internet, and sold through existing online e-tailers, the digital channel mirroring the high street bricks'n'mortar one.

Over 1000 albums will be offered spin doctors... sorry, sources told Reuters just ahead of the launch. Much of the core technology was developed with RealNetworks, but the sources claimed RealAudio won't be the only music format supported. The service will provide "several popular playback formats endorsed by the music industry", they said - which must mean RealAudio and MS Audio.

The sources didn't pre-release pricing information, but Warner is likely to charge $9.99 to $16.99 for albums and around $2.99 for singles - a pricing scheme that matches CD prices and appears to have become standard among on the major recording companies' online services. Cartel? Schmartel... ®

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