Slumping CD sales and an upcoming yearlong download promotion by Pepsi and Amazon are forcing music labels to reconsider their position on MP3 downloads:
A yearlong download promotion planned between Pepsi and Amazon, Billboard has learned, is among several developments forcing further consideration by Warner Music Group (WMG) and Sony BMG Music Entertainment to follow EMI and Universal Music Group's lead in distributing music in the MP3 format, which forgoes restrictive digital rights management technology.
News of the Pepsi promotion, which is expected to be announced February 3 during the Super Bowl, coincides with Wal-Mart's ultimatum that major labels supply walmart.com with their music in MP3, sources said.
Labels said they have been watching the success of an MP3 test that Universal Music Group (UMG) began in August. The major label continues to allow the sale of 85 percent of its current catalog as MP3s. Sources said UMG is on the verge of permanently embracing that digital format. But a source close to the testing insisted that the decision is still up in the air while the company awaits conclusive results from the trial, which are due in mid-January.