Sony BMG last to drop copy protection


Sony BMG Music Entertainment will roll out its Platinum MusicPass series of digital album cards beginning Jan. 15 at Best Buy, Target and Fred's, with Trans World and Winn-Dixie coming to the party by the end of January.

In Canada, participating retailers include Best Buy, CD Plus, Shoppers Drug Mart, and Wal-Mart with HMV coming on board sometime during the first quarter.

As reported previously, the move marks the company's first commercial foray into MP3s in the U.S., a strategy that until recently it resisted in favor of selling files with digital rights management capabilities.

The digital album gift cards, which retail for $12.99, will be artist-specific and feature album artwork, and will come with bonus material. The card will contain a scratch-off that will reveal a PIN number that can be redeemed for a download at

"We see MusicPass as a great way to bring digital music to the physical retail space," said Sony BMG Music Entertainment global digital business & U.S. sales president Thomas Hesse in a statement. "We believe it will have strong appeal for a broad range of consumers, and that it will ultimately expand both the digital and physical markets for music."

Among the titles receiving this treatment are the Backstreet Boys' "Unbreakable"; Brad Paisley's "5th Gear;" Bruce Springsteen's "Magic"; Celine Dion's "Taking Chances"; John Mayer's "Continuum"; Three Days Grace's "One-X"; and Tony Bennett's "Duets." Compilations include "70's Pop Hits"; "Sensational 60's"; "Country Gold"; and "Everlasting Love."

In addition, as part of the launch, two titles -- Kenny Chesney's "Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates" and Dion's "Taking Chances" -- will also come with expanded offerings that retail for $19.99. In addition to those complete albums, the expanded MusicPass offering on those titles will include bonus material and the choice of one additional album from that same artist's catalog.