EMI wades into music retail with Web store

The site is still only in beta and won't sell songs initially but the label hopes to use it as a means to test new digital platforms.

Greg Sandoval Former Staff writer
Greg Sandoval covers media and digital entertainment for CNET News. Based in New York, Sandoval is a former reporter for The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. E-mail Greg, or follow him on Twitter at @sandoCNET.
Greg Sandoval
An example of an artist's page on EMI.com EMI.com

EMI Music, the music label representing such acts as Coldplay and the Beatles, is expected on Wednesday to launch a test version of its own music store, EMI.com.

While the idea behind the site is still a bit vague, the smallest of the four major music labels plans to eventually sell downloads from the site. For the time being, however, EMI.com is sort of a lab rat, a place where the recording company can "experiment with new digital platforms."

The site is still under construction and is "very beta" said a spokeswoman, which means there won't be any "buy" buttons available initially.

This means that the site is basically an information hub where fans can learn about "music, videos, photos, biographies, and discographies" of their favorite EMI artists. Fans can also listen to music, presumably streamed to their PCs. Eventually, visitors will be allowed to play with widgets and buy music, the company said in a statement.

At a time when the four major labels seem to move only in lockstep--at least when it comes to the retail deals they sign--EMI is the only top recording company with its own Web store. At least EMI is trying something new.

"This launch of EMI.com is the first step in a process to better test and learn from the consumer experience," the company said in a statement.