Universal launches Lost Tunes in U.K.

Download store focused on rare, exclusive tracks

LONDON -- Universal Music Catalog today launches Lost Tunes, an online U.K. download store focused on deep catalog and rare, exclusive and "overlooked" tracks.

Based at www.losttunes.com and powered by digital media delivery company 7digital, the site launch features 134 albums from the Universal catalog that are being made available for exclusive download.

Titles include the Walker Brothers' "Live In Japan" and material by British acts such as erstwhile new wavers the Comsat Angels and rhythm and blues favorites Nine Below Zero.

A further 500 titles will be made available for download in the next six month. Sept. 1 will bring the first of Lost Tunes' planned exclusives, a new collection of previously unavailable tracks by early 1990s Liverpool band the La's. Fiction/Universal band the Delays are recording their four favorite "lost tunes" to be released on the site on the same date.

The site will also mine the Trojan, Fiction, Decca and other archives for future exclusives. Other Universal labels represented in Lost Tunes' album catalog include Verve, A&M, Motown and Stax.

All downloads are available as high-quality 320kpbs MP3s and will work with any MP3-compatible fixed or portable device. Individual tracks are priced at 0.99 pounds ($1.96), with albums priced from 5.99 pounds ($11.85) upwards.

Catalog research on the Lost Tunes project began a year ago. The site is designed to help consumers both rediscover archive favorites and find new ones, with a "smart search" facility and music sorted into eight genres and a total of 38 sub-genres. Editorial on the launch homepage includes coverage of Sandy Denny and Billy Fury.

Azi Eftekhari, head of digital and media for Universal Music Catalog, likens the consumer experience of Lost Tunes to that of visiting a favorite local record store. She tells Billboard.biz: "We've noticed a gap in the market that we think needs to be filled from a music lover's perspective. It was a question of 'Do we want people only to be able to find this music if they've got it in their heads, or have them spend lots of time on the store and be guided through it'?"

International versions of the site are planned to launch in the coming months.