Virgin Megastores To Offer Internet Music For Download

Kiosks to have songs available by independent and unsigned artists.

Music by independent and unsigned artists soon will be available for downloading from the Internet onto custom CDs at Virgin Megastores, the Virgin Entertainment Group announced Thursday (July 15).

Through in-store kiosks, customers will be able to pick through online music offerings from several websites, including Liquid Audio's Liquid Music Network, CDuctive, AMP3.com, Amplified.com, songs.com, Riffage.com, Noisebox and Mjuice, the company said.

Although no specific artists were announced, Ravi Ahuja, Virgin's vice president of business development, said, "The emphasis here is on stuff you can't get in stores."

Artists such as San Diego pop-punk band Furious IV, whose song "The Poor Me Sob Story" recently was one of the top downloaded songs at Mjuice.com, are likely to be the type of band whose music will be offered for download.

The same kiosks will be used to download music and burn CDs and other media for a previously announced program in which Sony Music is allowing record stores to print copies of more than half the label's 7,000 in-print titles onto CD, DVD, MiniDisc or even flash-memory portable devices.

In the Virgin program, customers initially will be able to burn 10 songs — no more, no less — onto a CD for $10, according to Ahuja, who said more options eventually will be added.

The system will be unveiled Friday (July 16) during the opening of a Virgin Megastore in Columbus, Ohio, the company said.

In September, Megastores in New York and Los Angeles will begin offering the system, which will be installed in stores in the rest of the country by the end of the year, Ahuja said.

Russ Pillar, Virgin Entertainment Group's president and chief executive officer, said in a statement that the initiative is part of a larger goal of keeping Virgin's stores "fresh and relevant. ... We believe that integrating music found only online into our retail stores is one of many manifestations of that mission."