Warner Starts E-Label, Pearl Jam to Offer MP3s

Acknowledging the rise of digital music in the industry, Warner Music Group has announced plans to start a digital-only music label that it will use to promote new artists. Instead of the traditional album releases, a "cluster" of about three songs from an artist would be released every few months.

Warner says this new "e-label" would put less pressure on new artists to produce an entire album, and instead give them more time to concentrate on only a few songs.

"An artist is not required to have enough material for an album, only just enough to excite our ears," Warner CEO Edgar Bronfman said recently of the venture.

An added benefit for Warner is a much-cheaper method of distribution, including savings in marketing, production and the disc-making process. It could also mean the label may be open to taking risks on more new artists than it could previously.

The company hopes to have the label up and running by the end of the year. Competitor Universal has had an all-digital label since late last year.

Some artists are bypassing the labels altogether and offering "bootlegs" of live shows on their own. Pearl Jam is one such band taking this approach and will launch an online store on September 1 to sell recordings from its upcoming tour.

Most of the band's live shows this year will be made available, and the files will come without DRM (digital rights management). The band also has plans to make classic shows available through the service in the near future.

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