Beginning tomorrow, consumers in 40 countries can download nearly 2,500 CD-quality albums in MP3 format at the DG Web Shop (www.dgwebshop.com). With a transfer bit-rate of 320 kilobits per second, the download sound quality will top the industry audio-level standard of 128-192 kbps and EMI's 256 kbps rate on iTunes.
Web patrons may purchase entire albums, collections of albums, box-sets, complete works, individual pieces or individual movements. About 600 album titles no longer available as CDs will be offered as well; that number will grow as DG aims to digitize all of its back catalogue of recordings.
Prices for individual tracks up to seven minutes start at $/€1.09; regular-length albums, with or without PDF-format "e-booklets" containing cover-art, photographs and liner notes, will run from $/€10.99 to $/€11.99.
"By launching this easy-to-use, intuitive DG Web Shop, we are not only expecting a significant growth in turnover but are also aiming to solidify and expand the digital future," DG president Michael Lang said in a statement.
Downloading classical music is expected to grow tremendously in the next few years. Price Waterhouse Coopers, in a study titled "Global Entertainment and Media Outlook 2006-2010," predicts digital turnover in classical will triple by 2010.
DG hopes to expand on the traffic of its company website, which receives 250,000 unique visitors per month.
"The shop is part of Deutsche Grammophon's ever-popular, newly redesigned web-site, containing news, e-booklets, promotion videos, tour dates, and more, as well as detailed information on the composers' works, recordings, and artists on Deutsche Grammophon," said Daniel Goodwin, DG's marketing head. "It now makes our web shop also a well-rounded music boutique."
All tracks will be part of Universal Music Group's ongoing market trials of Digital Rights Management-free downloads, announced earlier this year. DG Web Shop downloads will so be burnable to CD and compatible with all portable music players, like iPods and Walkmans.
The DG Web Shop will also hit untapped markets in China, India, Latin America, South Africa, and Central and Eastern Europe, where retailers like iTunes are not available.