Universal Music Announces Singles on USB Drives

Instead of offering digital singles as downloads like Apple does with iTunes, Universal Music announced that it plans to release its singles on USB flash drives this month. One reason Universal wants to stay with a physical product rather than a digital download is that the retail margins are better on physical copies of music. The first digital tracks to be released from Universal will be from Keane on October 29 and Nicole, the lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls. The USB singles will retail in the UK for about $10 USD (a CD single of the same tune retails for about $6 USD). "This is aimed at the younger, 12 to 24 year olds, who no longer believe that the CD is as cool as it used to be," said Universal UK's commercial director Brian Rose. Personally I don't see this taking off, but what does the rest of Neowin think?

News source: DailyTech

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18 Comments

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whats uncool about cd's? How many 24 year old's think buying cd's isnt cool and more so how many people even care if it's cool or not.

This is going to fail so badly. Firstly it's priced above cd's. Secondly I'm quite sure your getting heavily compressed audio. Thirdly you still need to get a physical device so you still have to deal with having devices around. Not only that but they won't work in a standard stereo or car or anything where a CD would.

It's going to become ungainly having 100's of usb keys. If people want something physical CD's are cheaper and offer better audio quality than these guys will likely offer. It's not much more effort to rip a cd than it is to plug in the usb.

Then for cheaper you can use a download service and pick your own tracks.

I do think the above mentioned ideas of download kiosk are ALOT better than this scheme although thats baisically no different than a pure digital download anyway just your home PC is your Kiosk in the later.

At 21, I love my cd collection and love having a few full cd shelves. I fail to see how it's uncool in the slightest.

I don't want to see these used for singles. That is just plain stupid.

Friends and I have been envisioning some sort of flash based release system to replace laser disks for some time. I don't think this is it, but it's similar.

I think this sytem could possibly be used for a good reason by, say, chocking these things full of the highest possible quality 5.1 and stereo mixes of full albums. Then perhaps it would have something over CDs. Of course you can more easily throw extras on there too, like say lyrics and liner notes and stupid flash extras and web links and whatever else.

But I don't think there's any good reason at this point for this move in particular. Come on. Singles on USB drives? That's ridiculous marketing. They're trying to be hip for the teenage market.

I'm a teenager but that doesn't automatically mean I want to be hip. And anyway junk like this would never be hip just because it's the same music stuck on a different medium.

Oh, and in other news, who exactly pays six dollars for a CD copy of a single?!

No wonder the profit margin on a physical product is bigger. That is ridiculous pricing. Singles are what, four songs at the most? And mostly you want just the single song itself anyway. I see maximum pricing being more like two or three dollars. Universal needs to grow up or roll over and die.

Wake me up next decade.

it's more expenisive, how is that good, hell burn the MP3 to CD it will be chaeaper, i think it is the industry trying to get in with the digital world but failing miserably, how big are the flash drives goign to be, and how easy is it to carry around say ten or 20 of them, can you stick more on the stick, can you get the music off the stick.

how many players have USB ports ???

sounds like a nominee for worst tech idea EVER

Why not just have retailers install download stations that people can bring their own USB drives/MP3 player, plug in, search, download DRM-free music, and go?

The other thing that i didn't think of in my previous comment, mp3's are all compressed in some way. Isn't this a reduction in quality of your "original"?

Unless it's being released on the drive in wav or flac.

I'm not sure it's directly a bad idea, but it sure sounds like a weird one to me...

A single on a small-ish USB drive? Huh? I don't see what good it would make, and yeah, mostly just a waste of cheap USB drives. :-S What are they trying to make their consumers win on this? Sure, maybe interesting if they get pretty large for other uses, but if it's just a small one, it sounds mostly just like a hassle to not be able to play it on all players, just DVD/CD players equipped with a USB connector.

Sounds pretty stupid IMO.

It'll be a huge waste of USB drives. What's the smallest drive you can get, 256mb's? A CD single has anywhere from 1 to 6 songs on it. It wouldn't fill the entire thing (that's if they use all the single tracks or just the one song) so they'd be wasting that drive. The only good would be that you just paid 6 to 10 buks on a drive that usually goes for 15 or 20 buks. Unless the size is only big enough for the few songs on the single.

I've never seen a single that has just the one song on it unless it's a promotional copy made for the radio stations. There's usually the single version, radio edit, a couple remixes and a b-side track that won't be on the album. If you get only the one song you're actually getting ripped off even if you still get a drive you could use for other little things. That is if the drive isn't write protected.

waste of ****ing plastic
don't they listen to the news or are they just so big headedly ignorant that they do not give the slightest ****

I think that they're trying to target a market who has lost interest in more then whether a cd is "cool" or not. People want freedom with their music, and don't want to pay more for that privilege.

This will leave the consumer with three options. 99c USD for a download, $6USD for a CD, or $10 USD for a USB single (read only i'm thinking, unable to be copied?). Which will you pick?

This is possibly the worst idea i've ever heard. It makes so little sense on so many levels that i find myself wanting to punch myself in the crotch just for contemplating its validity. What could make it work (which still doesnt make sense to me) is creating kiosks where you could take said purchased USB stick and choose some amount of singles(greater than 1... dummies...) and transfer them to the stick for the same price. To follow this, the stick will be re-usable so if you wish to return, you can pay a flat fee per single and put them on the stick.

OR... you can just go to ITunes and DL singles for 99 cents and not have to worry about external media. I personally enjoy the quote "the CD isnt as cool as it used to be" when you're introducing an even less flexible type of media that's more expensive and has no advantage over existing means to obtain music. Whoever thought up this idea should be fired. Whoever approved this idea to go into mainstream production should be fired and thrown in front of a bus.

Idiots! Do they really believe that the younger consumers think that CDs are "not cool"? It's the cost of albums and the ease of the Internet that is swaying younger consumers to digital downloads, not the physical media.

I think it's a splendidly dense idea. I especially like the fact that it's a Pussycat Dolls spin-off they chose to launch this instead of something good.

IF they had good music available, AND the capacity of the drive was substantially more than the music itself, I might pick a few up to have the music and the extra drives hanging around. Other than that, I probably wouldn't touch them.