Warner Music Group (WMG) and Microsoft Corp. Wednesday announced that WMG has chosen Microsoft Windows Media to deliver secure music downloads over the Internet. In a multiyear agreement, WMG has selected Windows Media Format as a primary format for commercial music download initiatives in the United States and Canada, with security provided by Windows Media Digital Rights Management (DRM).
The first WMG tracks for sale in Windows Media Format will be available beginning Thursday. Music fans in the United States and Canada will be able to download current singles and exclusive Internet-only tracks by major WMG artists including Yolanda Adams, Barenaked Ladies, k.d. lang, matchbox twenty, Orgy, Pantera, Phish, Keith Sweat and others.
“The choice of technologies for this initiative was critical, and using Windows Media helps us provide the best possible experience to the broadest possible audience,” said Paul Vidich, executive vice president of Strategic Planning and Business Development for Warner Music Group. “Windows Media audio and digital rights management technologies have been widely adopted by popular software players and portable devices. Supporting Windows Media means virtually every digital media enthusiast can enjoy downloading music from WMG artists.”
“Warner’s commitment to digital commerce and Windows Media is a breakthrough for the millions of people who enjoy the flexibility and convenience that digital music provides,” said Will Poole, vice president of the Digital Media Division at Microsoft. “By making such a broad range of great titles available, Warner is delivering what consumers want – fast and easy access to music from their favorite artists.”
Incidentally, this arrangement indirectly pairs fierce rivals Microsoft with RealNetworks Inc., part of the myriad of Internet powerhouses to contribute to Warner’s download cause. In September, RealNetworks agreed to develop a platform-neutral infrastructure that will make the downloads available to consumers in the U.S. and Canada via online retailers.
The infrastructure is designed to support several playback formats endorsed by the music industry. RealNetworks will also promote the service to the millions of consumers who use its media software.