SanDisk, record labels announce new music format

"SlotMusic," backed by four major music labels, is a record album sold on a compact memory card that can be immediately played on MicroSD-enabled phones.

The ever-shrinking record album--its latest iteration being the compact disc--just got a lot more compact, or shall we say, micro.

SlotMusic card
A "SlotMusic" card SanDisk

Backed by four major music labels, SanDisk on Monday announced a new physical music format dubbed "SlotMusic" that's essentially an entire album on a MicroSD compact memory card. Wal-Mart and Best Buy are among the retailers that have already signed on to start selling the cards for the upcoming holiday season.

With CD sales continuing to flounder, this latest effort to boost physical media sales is aimed at users of the millions of cell phones and MP3 players with MicroSD slots. They can insert the card right into the slot and immediately hear the music. The card will also come with a USB sleeve so it can be plugged in directly to any USB-enabled computer.

SlotMusic cards will be sold without digital rights management restrictions and in the form of MP3 files from EMI Music, Sony BMG, Universal Music Group, and Warner Music Group.

A joint press release from all the involved parties is scant on details about what will be released in SlotMusic format. But The Wall Street Journal (subscription required), citing people close to the record companies and retailers, says the initial release batch will be 29 albums from all four of the involved labels. "The releases are mostly by current pop artists including Rihanna, Ne-Yo, Robin Thicke, New Kids on the Block, Weezer, Usher, Chris Brown, Akon and Leona Lewis," the story stays. "In a nod to older buyers, Elvis Presley is also represented."

Also not mentioned in the release is anything about pricing. The New York Times' Saul Hansell, however, says a record label executive told him he estimates they'll go for $7 to $10.

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