January 27, 2003, 12:00 AM

Music retailers form a consortium for digital music

A group of music retailers has formed a consortium to sell music downloaded from the Internet. Each will market the music independently at its own prices.


A group of music retailers has formed a consortium to sell music downloaded from the Internet. Best Buy Co. Inc., Hastings Entertainment Inc., Tower Records, Virgin Entertainment Group, Wherehouse Music and Trans World Entertainment Corp., operator of FYE Stores, Coconuts, Strawberries, Spec’s and Planet Music, have invested in digital music company Echo, which will seek licenses to enable members to sell downloadable music via their web sites. It is the first retailer-driven digital music consortium.

"The Echo consortium was established to create a viable business strategy that combines physical and digital music distribution," said Dan Hart, CEO of Echo. "With competitive licenses, music retailers can utilize their long history and expertise in building customer relationships, marketing music and breaking new artists to provide a digital music experience that truly serves the consumer."

"The message of music retail is simple: we have always excelled at selling music to consumers, and we plan to extend our consumer relationships from the physical world into the digital world," said John Marmaduke, CEO of Hastings Entertainment, a Midwest and Western chain of 144 stores.

Best Buy, Hastings, Tower, Trans World, Virgin, and Wherehouse each own equity in Echo and collectively own a controlling majority of Echo. Each retailer will independently market and price the digital entertainment products it offers.


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