JB Hi-Fi is the latest bricks-and-mortar retailer to offer a music download service, with the launch today of a digital store at www.jbhifimusic.com.au.
Of the 1.5 million songs available, 30,000 are in MP3 format rather than the standard WMA with DRM (digital rights management) restrictions. This presents a new alternative for iPod owners previously limited to Apple's iTunes store for their online purchases due to the device's incompatibility with Microsoft's WMA format.
"The MP3 files available on the site will enable our customers to download to their preferred MP3 player. You are in control of your digital music catalogue and how you to choose to enjoy that music," said JB Hi-Fi Marketing Director Scott Browning in a statement today.
The MP3s carry no restrictions in terms of how many times songs can be burnt or exported to personal devices, but each file is "watermarked" with a digital signature that allows the owner to be tracked if songs are distributed illegally.
Artists whose songs are available in MP3 format include Thom Yorke, Bloc Party and Basement Jaxx.
Tracks cost from AU$1.69 per song and AU$16.95 per album. This pricing structure mirrors that of the iTunes store, and is slightly lower per-track than NineMSN's digital service.
Pre-paid music gift cards, priced at $10, $20 and $50, will be made available for purchase online and in JB Hi-Fi stores.
Digital music downloads have recently become an official part of the Australian music market, with ARIA announcing on Sunday that its Top 50 singles chart is now composed of overall sales, whether digital or in-store.