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Record company to put chunk of library online

Wednesday July 10, 2002

LOS ANGELES — Responding to the rampant spread of unauthorized music swapping on the Internet, Universal Music Group plans to put a large chunk of its vast music library online through a subscription service beginning Tuesday. 

UMG, the largest of the five major record companies, will make about 1,000 of its 11,000 albums available to subscribers who pay between $10 and $15 a month. 

Unlike most other initiatives announced during the last six months, UMG’s partnership with, a downloadable music subscription service, gives customers the same ownership rights as if they had bought the music on a CD. 

That means users will be able to store tracks and transfer them to CDs or portable players using the popular MP3 file format. 

But UMG is selecting the content it makes available selectively. Rather than offering the work of best-selling artists like Eminem and U2, UMG has chosen older, less popular content that doesn’t sell quickly in stores. 

UMG executives want to see if the music service can actually boost sales inside stores, or whether it ends up cannibalizing physical sales. 

“Our feeling is people signing up are not going to say, ’Boy, I don’t have to go out and buy the CD now,”’ said Larry Kenswil, president of Universal Music Group eLabs. “We’ll see what happens.”