ERA of the MP3 kitemark begins

Seven of the UK’s music download retailers are launching a campaign to highlight music sold in the MP3 format.,,,,, and will all use a new “MP3 compatible” logo to show music fans which music downloads will play on all computers and most digital players, including the iPod and iPhone.

The logo campaign has been devised by ERA Digital, the digital grouping within the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA), the trade association whose members account for more than 90 per cent of UK sales of music, DVD and computer games.
ERA Digital Chairman and CEO Russel Coultart said, “2008 has been the breakthrough year for legal MP3 downloads. We now want to take the message out to music fans that they can legally buy downloads which are not locked to specific players or computers or mobile phones.” CEO Ben Drury said, “7digital was the first UK online retailer to offer music from all the major record companies in the MP3 format. Our sales have been booming because consumers love the freedom of MP3. The beauty of an MP3 file is that once you have bought it, you don’t need to be a computer genius or a lawyer to make it work and you are not locked in to a relationship with a single retailer or hardware manufacturer.”
Wendy Snowdon, Head of PlayDigital, comments: “It makes sense for customers to buy MP3. Not only can they use the MP3 format on any music device but it’s often cheaper to buy this universally-compatible music than it is to buy restricted music from non-MP3 retailers. It’s an easy choice.”
Russel Coultart said, “We are in discussions with music retail organisations around the world to make ‘MP3 compatible’ an international standard.”
The new campaign has the support of Thomson, who licence the MP3 format on behalf of the format’s inventor, Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute.
“We welcome ERA’s initiative, which further illustrates the industry-wide adoption of mp3 as the global standard in digital music for its quality, convenience and ubiquity”, says Francois Thuiliere, Director of Marketing and Business Development for Thomson’s mp3 and Audio Licensing Group.
The campaign is also supported by UK record companies trade association the BPI.
Geoff Taylor, BPI Chief Executive, said, “Digital music is fast-moving and exciting, so initiatives that help consumer understanding are important.  This logo will not only help give consumers confidence that the music files they are buying will play on a wide range of devices, but will also help them know that they are legal and that artists are getting paid.”
ERA is seeking support from manufacturers of MP3-compatible digital music players. We’re inclined to believe it may wait a while for support from the principal operator in the space, Apple. If Apple were listening to us we’d advise it to play a part in the scheme – if only to highlight that some majors are refusing to allow the world’s biggest digital music store to sell music in the DRM-free MP3 format.

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