According to today’s WSJ, Blue Note records (a subsidiary of EMI) will begin selling music in MP3 format via Yahoo. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come, but for now the plan is just for a couple of songs, including a single from Norah Jones’ new album. What’s amazing is that this hasn’t been done already. I’ve always been skeptical that no one at the record companies gets it. But the article explains,
The MP3 announcements highlight a growing internal debate at EMI and other music companies over the correct approach to maximizing the impact of digital sales. Throughout the music industry, executives at record labels who suggested using MP3s for promotions spent years butting heads with their corporate superiors. … Mr. Hochkeppel confirms that he and other Blue Note executives had to overcome what he called “general resistance” on the part of senior EMI executives. He says they were ultimately persuaded there was a need to try fresh approaches to digital sales.
What I fear now is that if this experiment with just a few songs isn’t wildly successful, the suits still won’t get it. They should think about it this way: They have licensing negotiations coming up with Steve Jobs. What a better bargaining chip than the promise of a music store competitor to iTunes that sells MP3s, which play on iPods?