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Universal Music Group Releases New Secure Music Format

Universal Music announced this week that they are testing out a new digital download music format, called "bluematter", where it will sell songs for $1.99 a pop.

Songs in the bluematter format come with multimedia content, such as biographies, photographs, lyrics and credits. Most importantly for UMG, the files are digitally secure - with a twist. Users can share samples of their favorite songs with other users freely, which is not the case with other secure digital file formats. To listen to the entire song, though, money must be put down on the table.

The record company is facing the huge challenge of attempting to wean the music-loving public away from its free MP3s. In an effort to entice, UMG is offering each consumer a $4 credit in a Magex Digital Wallet.

Several websites will be using the Bluematter format on their websites including: RollingStone.com (an Emusic Web site), Lycos Music, Music.com, audiohighway.com, and LAUNCH.com, to name a few.

But there may be some dissention in the ranks. A spokesman for one of the content companies said, "At $1.99 a song thru Bluematter, this trial is not likely to be successful. No way are consumers going to pay that price."

That may be because many music sites are selling other kinds of secure music like Liquid Audio, which sell songs for $.99 a song. Rollingstone's parent company Emusic.com sells unsecure MP3 songs, plus offers an all-you-can-download subscription service for $9.99 a month. Also, there are still free MP3s available through Napster.Perhaps the most important thing UMG offers is popular name-brand artists like blink 182, Smashmouth, Marvin Gaye and Hanson.

Bluematter was created in partnership with Real Networks, Magex, and InterTrust Technologies Corporation. Real Jukebox 2 will be the only player compatible with the Bluematter format. Digital rights management will be handled by InterTrust, and Magex will provide the financial clearing-house services.

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