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CDnow stocks up on digital downloads

The music retailer's digital downloads store will debut with some 10,000 songs when it opens this fall, the company says.

CDnow's digital downloads store will debut with some 10,000 songs when it opens this fall, the company said in an interview today.

The songs will come from the digital download site, which is as of today a CDnow partner.

Today's announcement comes as CDnow seeks a way to differentiate itself from online music leader CDnow announced a merger with music club Columbia House last week and relaunched its Web site in May.

The announcement also comes on the same day that Jupiter Communications released a report projecting big growth in online music sales and digital downloads.

CDnow's downloads store will be one of the first of its kind when it launches. Ted Hooban, CDnow's director of digital media, said the site will launch with just the songs from CDuctive; although, the company plans to add songs from other download aggregators and major record labels in the future.

Hooban said the site plans to add all of CDuctive's inventory of 40,000 songs as soon as CDuctive can encode them. CDuctive offers songs in MP3 format, but Hooban said CDnow will not sell any MP3 downloads, arguing the format is "insecure."

Some in the music industry have been fighting use of the MP3 format because it makes it easy for users to copy and distribute songs. The industry is promoting the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) to protect copyrights, and CDnow is likely to offer downloads that comply with SDMI.

Earlier this month, CDnow introduced a digital downloads area on its site and announced plans to create a downloads store. Although Amazon representatives have said that Amazon will eventually sell digital downloads, the site now has a promotional area only with free downloads.