EMI is planning a pre-holiday launch of a new music portal that will include the ability to buy downloads, according to the FT. We've confirmed that but a source familiar with the project says it is not an attempt to displace digital retailers like iTunes or *Amazon* or as some EMI version of *Sony* Connect. It's meant more as a consumer testbed, a way for EMI to see what interests users most and how they respond to various things. It will include artist and catalog information; audio and video downloads will be both free and paid. EMI is declining comment although this seems like the sort of thing they should be talking about.
It's another example of content ubiquity in an online universe that seems to veer between exclusivity and total availability. Universal is looking a video portal. (If they could clone the International Music Feed that was killed when sold to Ovation, it would make a lot of people happy.) EMI could send people to its digital retailers but it has hundreds, if not more, e-commerce relationships around the globe. If the idea is to launch a major music store, the portal would have to include all the majors. But this sounds more opportunistic, more about impulse and label destination then music shopping.
By Staci D. Kramer