ATRAC's New Lease on Audio Life

Next to join the online ATRAC parade, Warner Music Group announced last week that it has agreed to license the ATRAC3 audio compression technology from Sony, for use in the electronic distribution of music. Warner says it expects to launch its electronic distribution business during the second half of 2000, using ATRAC3 on a non-exclusive basis.

With ATRAC3, Warner says that it plans to make music available on the Internet that can be downloaded to PCs, then copied onto and played on ATRAC3-compatible devices that are also compliant with the guidelines developed by the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI). Warner is the first major record label since Sony to announce an ATRAC approach for releasing music. Previous announcements have outlined plans to incorporate ATRAC in playback devices and mastering sofware.

Sony's Keiji Kimura states that the company is pleased about the new agreement, adding that "Sony has already introduced SDMI-compliant hardware in Japan and the US and has formed alliances with various industry leaders to promote ATRAC3 as well as OpenMG to enable secure music downloading and transferring. The agreement with Warner marks an important step forward for the growth of the electronic music-distribution market."

According to Warner's Paul Vidich, "through this non-exclusive agreement establishing ATRAC3 as one of our compression technologies, our labels and artists will be able to offer fans the ability to download and play their music on some of the first SDMI-compliant portable devices in the marketplace. We look forward to supporting these devices by Sony, as well as other popular devices that offer consumers the ability to play a broad selection of secure music at the highest-quality sound available."