LONDON (Billboard) - London-based 7digital has become the first digital media delivery company to make EMI's Rolling Stones catalog available on MP3 with no digital rights management (DRM) restrictions.
Without the restrictions, consumers can play their downloaded music on an unlimited number of digital music players and computers.
The 24 albums are delivered at the high-quality 320 kbps rate, and for the next four weeks will exclusively retail at www.7digital.com at 5.49 pounds each ($10.88). After the promotion expires, the albums will cost 7.99 pounds ($15.83) to download.
By contrast, Apple Inc. sells EMI's digital catalog from its iTunes Store in a "higher quality" DRM-free format at 256 kbps AAC encoding for $1.29 per song. The entire iTunes catalog of over five million songs also sells at 99 cents per song in the DRM format at 128 kbps.
Tuesday's announcement coincided with the first of the Stones' three shows at London's O2 Arena. The final show, on Sunday, will bring the curtain down on the band's two-year "A Bigger Bang" world tour.
The albums date from 1971's "Sticky Fingers," the first studio release after the Stones left their U.K. label Decca, and continue through to 2005's "A Bigger Bang."
The series includes all of the band's studio and live albums since 1971, as well as several period compilations including "Jump Back" and "Made In The Shade" - but not 2002's "Forty Licks," which was a joint-venture release between Decca/Universal internationally and Virgin/EMI in the U.S.
"To be the first and only music download service to make high quality downloads of the Rolling Stones' tracks available is a phenomenal coup for us," said 7digital's managing director Ben Drury, "
All 7digital output can be played on any MP3 device, including iPod and Zen players, as well as mobile phones and PDAs.