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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Dude, Have You Heard the New Kanye West USB?

posted by on October 18 at 12:00 PM

Universal Music, the world’s biggest music company, is to release singles on USB memory sticks this month, in an attempt to arrest the decline in music sales.

The Vivendi-owned company plans to charge about £4.99 for USB singles starting on October 29 with releases from piano rock band Keane and Nicole, the lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls. That compares with £2.99 for a typical CD single.

According to the story, the UK is the test market because “the UK is the last important market for singles,” according to Universal. So if this flops, the US may never see the new product. But other labels (EMI and Warner Music) are following Universal’s lead, and Universal hopes to release full USB albums by the end of the year.

Especially in the shadow of Radiohead’s ballsy (and successful) “name your own price” release, I think it’s interesting to see the ways major labels are panicking and struggling to find their place in the market. They want to keep up with the technological trends, but they want to remain profitable and offer something physical for consumers to buy.

I mean, USB albums? Would you buy that instead of just downloading the record? Maybe I’m missing the point of it, but I’d be shocked if this was an at all successful venture.

(Full story at TimesOnline, hat tip to

RSS icon Comments


What a terrible idea. Instead of people not buying the shiny aluminum disc, they're not going to buy the memory stick. I mean, if it's going to end up on your computer, why not eliminate the middleman and download it?

Posted by Jason Josephes | October 18, 2007 12:18 PM

Doesn't make much sense if they're more expensive than CDs. Great idea if they can be cheaper.

Posted by eric w. | October 18, 2007 12:49 PM

When I read about this on I had a feeling that it was a dumb idea. If you have the music on USB then you need a computer to listen to it. This technology is not convenient, cost efficient or practical. I pass.

Posted by Anthony | October 18, 2007 3:23 PM

Of course no one's going to buy them. Part of the whole appeal of digital music is so you don't have to go buy it at a store. Who's going to buy a USB drive over a CD? I don't get how people can be dumb enough to actually follow through with this idea.

Posted by Morgan | October 18, 2007 8:18 PM

Dammit- I actually thought of this about a year ago and was waiting for the cost to come down on these things. ...but judging by peoples' reactions here, I guess I dodged a bullet ;)

Really tho, think of the advantages, namely that you could cram the drive with a lot more music that would fit on a CD and/or include a large amount of elaborate artwork/videos/interactive web doohickies... PLUS, after people dump the data to their harddrives, they're left with a practical souvenir that (with the appropriate screenprinting) doubles as clever band merch.

Posted by Ben | October 19, 2007 12:06 PM

They should be offering the opposite. Give away the download and then offer a super fantastic collectible CD or alternative hard copy with artwork and shiny metal badge or something. Invest in the packaging. Yes, much like Radiohead has done. Oh you stupid labels. USB = garbage.

Posted by BenskiBeat | October 19, 2007 12:24 PM

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