UK Digital Music Retailers Float 5 Point Plan

LONDON (Hypebot) – A coalition of leading players in the UK digital music business is urging reforms it says are essential to maintain growth in the market. The new trade group ERA Digital, is an offshoot of the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA).

Members including hmv.com, Play.com, 7digital.com, Orange, EUK, digitalstores.co.uk, Playlouder MSP, Trackitdown.net and a number of specialist operators are putting forward this five point action plan:

1. A commercially-driven and collaborative approach to ISPs
ERA Digital believes that illegal file-sharing and the unwitting role played in facilitating it by internet service providers are best addressed commercially.

2. A more open approach to new models from the recording industry
While ERA Digital notes and supports the progress made by the record industry in supporting new models beyond the a-la-carte download, it believes a step-change in openness is required. Too often, it says, the starting point for discussions is custom and practice in the physical world.

3. Encouraging competition among collection societies
Too often, says ERA Digital, collection societies acting not only on behalf of songwriters and music publishers, but also those representing record companies and artists are old-fashioned and inefficient. The result is increased costs all-round. Where it makes sense, global licensing should encouraged.

4. Digital Rights Management
DRM should be abandoned for a-la-carte downloads, says Era Digital. It is confusing and unconvenient for the music fan and hampers music sales. ERA Digital continues, however, to support DRM where it is needed to enable new models.

5. Clearer understanding of the digital music consumer
ERA Digital says much more work is still required to better understand consumer attitudes to and requirements from digital music services. It also sees a need for new charts tracking digital music consumption.

ERA Digital chairman Russel Coultart said, “Too often the debate about the future of music is dominated by the interests of producers rather than of consumers. As the link in the chain closest to the consumer, it is right and appropriate that ERA Digital should align itself with the interests of music fans.

“Our five-point-plan goes a long way towards identifying the areas of keenest interest to music fans.” Coultart said ERA Digital will now seek to engage with all sides of the music industry in an attempt to progress its agenda.

Album downloads growing 70% year-on-year

ERA Digital analysis of Official UK Charts data for the first quarter of 2008 shows:

  • Sales of Single track downloads grew by 42.3% in the first quarter of 2008 compared with the same period of 2007 to reach 26.4m, worth approximately £20.9m;
  • Sales of Digital Single bundles grew by 23.8% to 128,000, worth approximately £382,000;
  • Sales of Digital albums grew by 71.6% to 2.3m, worth around £15m
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