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Liquid Audio eyes in-store digital music market

The company announces a new marketing effort for its Liquid Kiosk Network, software that allows customers to preview and purchase music as digital singles and create custom CDs.

Liquid Audio is setting its sights on the growing in-store digital distribution market.

The company, primarily known for its efforts to make music available over the Internet, today announced a new marketing effort for its Liquid Kiosk Network, software that allows customers to preview and purchase music as digital singles and create custom CDs.

The campaign marks the first time the product will be marketed to U.S. retailers. International retailers including The Music Company in Seoul, Korea, and TopShop/TopMan stores in London already use Liquid Kiosk Network software.

"We believe consumers entering today's stores have higher expectations and want a customized product and satisfying retail experience," Phil Wiser, co-founder and chief technology officer at Liquid Audio, said in a statement. "The Liquid Kiosk Network solution lets traditional retailers leverage Internet music to expand their product line while maintaining their current storefront real estate."

Although the Internet has been the focus of a bitter debate over the merits of making music available for digital download, channels such as kiosks are winning over the industry more quickly. Just this month, for example, two major music suppliers, Valley Media and Amplified.com, agreed to merge in a move aimed at bringing a vast catalog of popular tracks into stores via kiosks.

In a further sign that the ice is thawing on commercial music downloads, EMI Recorded Music announced last week that it will create a system to digitally distribute its songs--a major sign that the "Big Five" record labels are starting to get over their long-running love affair with CDs.

Liquid Audio, which Net music waits for its cue (year in review) is working with EMI to encode and catalog its collection, is positioned to capitalize on consumers' growing interest in collecting music in a digital format for play on their computers, portable devices, and eventually car and home stereos.

But the field of competitors lining up to deliver these services is long.

EMI's digital play comes as another Big Five label, Universal Music, is working with RioPort.com to bring its collection online in a digital format. In addition, Sony Music has a licensing deal with Digital On-Demand (DOD) to deliver much of its content to retailers via DOD's proprietary, high-speed "Red Dot Network," which is accessed through retail store kiosks.