back to article Record labels to ditch CD singles for USB Flash drives

USB Flash drives will soon appear in record stores in a bid by major music labels to build up sales of physical media in the post-CD era. IronKey secure USB Flash drive and token Yes, but where are the sleeve notes? Universal told The Times this week that by the end of this month it will release USB singles holding …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Steven Dick

    I won't, the kids might

    It doesn't appeal to me, but then I'm not the target audience (being 35 years old).

    As today's teenagers buy mobile ring tones that are shorter, sound worse and cost more than the original song, they very well might buy all these USB sticks.

    Doesn't sound good for the environment, though. A big pile of USB sticks for landfill in the next few years?

  2. Bill Fresher


    The good thing about CDs is that you can go buy one, shove it in your portable CD player, and listen to it straight away... with a USB stick you need a computer, and if you've got a computer handy then why not just download the music?

  3. Andrew Cawte

    At risk of stating the obvious

    I'd happily buy music on USB provided:

    - it's encoded using a lossless, portable, non-proprietary format (read .WAV or .FLAC), and

    - price is no higher than CD, and

    - *NO DRM*

    Right now I'm guessing the labels will manage to score 0 / 3...

  4. Stuart Van Onselen
    Thumb Down

    Good idea...

    ...for the labels! (At least, in their own minds.)

    Although the article doesn't say, I think it's safe to assume that the data on the disk is DRM'd to the hilt. Thus, singles on these sticks are going to be *inferior* to the old CDs. Watch the labels move everything to DRM'd online- and USB-based sales.

    That way they finally close the "rip from CD" loophole, which they so spectacularly failed to do with CD-centric DRM.

    And of course, no-one will ever break DRM on downloads...

    (All in all, it's a dumb idea that I don't see solving anything.)

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. JB

    What a waste!

    ...environmentally speaking. How un-green is this! I know CDs aren't exactly enironmentally friendly when disposed of, but USB connectors? Will there be some kind of recycling scheme for these devices, so you can dispose of them responsibly once you've decided it's full of crap? One hopes it can be like the old cassette albums and singles, with a USB version of putting sticky tape over the recording tab holes! That's the style, Music Industry - give everyone anything except what they really want!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Having just moved to Spain, I picked up a new stereo system (CD, tape, radio) and it has a USB feature.

    No explanation of what that meant on the box.

    I was hoping it acted as USB speakers, but no. It plays flash drives.

    Actually, it's quite handy. I can listen to my files on my PC, then shove them on a memory stick and listen without worrying about (snore) boot times. Then I can take them to a net caff or to work and listen there. All without the time taken to burn a CD or the compatibility worries of CDRW

    BUT -- most stereos don't have this feature, and I wouldn't buy a new one just to use it, particularly given that it seems to be a bonus feature for low-end (£30ish) systems. The CD is ubiquitous and you get to choose your system.

    Furthermore, why pay more to get your music on a key if the first thing you do is to put it on another key as a compilation...?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    What's the point?

    At the moment, you buy a CD to avoid DRM and to get it in the highest quality possible. What's the point of going into a shop and buying some low-fi MP3s badly encoded on a read-only (I presume) USB stick that's not going to fit nicely into a CD rack, only to get the same shabby quality you can download from iTunes?!

    They tried replacing CDs with the minidisc - and that flopped. What makes them think this is going to fare any better?

  9. wwwolf

    yeah right!

    so the record companies want me to pay more for the same shite, using a delivery method they've already proved more than willing to exploit?

    count me out of this one!

  10. James Le Cuirot
    Thumb Down

    A waste

    That's just a waste of resources unless you can buy many tracks on a stick at once and even then, it's still pointless. CDs not being "cool" anymore is not a valid reason. The only right way to do this would be to allow people to download onto their existing sticks but I highly doubt the record labels would do that.

  11. Brendan Sullivan
    Gates Horns

    Interesting possibility

    The possibility is interesting, although really only in it's potential as a means of getting cheap USB sticks with my music/other content.

    To tell the truth I've only purchased CDs the last few years if I couldn't get the album or songs as a download or if I could get the CD very cheaply.

    Also, personally, the releases listed here aren't really helping sell me on this since I have no real interest in any of these 'artists' or their 'music', with the possible exception of Pink Floyd.

  12. M Brown
    Thumb Down


    So, if this goes ahead in the mainstream I have to buy all new equipment if i want to play my music away from my pc? no thanks. I'm aware people had to do this because of the jump from vinyl to cassette to CD, but the next format then came about because it could improve on the last. What advantage, besides durability, does USB have over CD? Not improved sound thats for sure as the bit rate, while can be higher than CD's, won't be picked up by most people. Certainly not me.

    My only hope is this goes the way of the minidisk.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    how does one

    Store these with your CD collectiosn? Cd's have artistic front covers, the name etc. A USB stick has to be stored flat to see who is on it..

    How can you tell who is on what without loading it up first. Or are now talking much larger USB flash pens as the ones I have will need small print to read title, the list of songs and the name of the band.

    Or do you copy it off and then bin it.

    What about malware and DRM????

  14. Sampler
    Thumb Down


    A platform with limited compaitbility, reads and most likely craqppy sound quality (with the obligatory DRM).

    Sign me up.

  15. Ken Hagan Gold badge
    Paris Hilton

    Are they insane?

    "it’ll charge around £5 (€7/$10) per stick – around £2 more than CD singles currently cost"

    I don't know what the margins are to the record company, but that's a 60% price hike for the consumer, and they are aiming this at the age group that is most unwilling to pay anything for music.

    Where's the laughing my arse off icon? (I've settled for the "totally brainless" one, as you can see.)

  16. Anonymous Coward


    "Is USB the best way of improving physical music sales? Would you buy music on USB instead of downloading it? "

    Err... no. Someone's clearly missing the point here. There's a bit of a market for CDs because there's still a fair amount of CD players hanging around. Are they also going to provide USB Stick players? Of course, I'm sure they've thought about the whole thing thoroughly and come up with some sort of standard between all of the labels that would allow such a player... No? Oh. Well... I'm sure that all those 'hip kids', without an internet connection (of which there must still be 5 or 6 I guess) to actually go and download the same content for a fraction of the price (or free, depending on their moral compass), will be rushing out to shoplift USB sticks from the shelves of HMV after hearing this news.

  17. Rob

    I'm impressed

    They have obviously gone the extra mile and cost and employed a consultant from the Ministry of Bloody Stupid Ideas rather than the Department of the Inanely Stupid Ideas.

  18. Chad H.
    Thumb Down

    Agreed, a waste

    We have USB drives that can store hundreds, if not thousands of songs, and the best thing the record companies can come up for them? Store a couple of songs...

    USB is the perfect format for entire back catalogs, not singles.

  19. Hein Kruger

    This is stupid

    I already have enough USB sticks. I don't want to have to buy a new one each time I buy music. I'd much rather just download music.

    Besides, the main attraction of physical media such as CD, DVD or vinyl is that it has some sort of permanence. You don't have the risk of accidentally erasing your music (unless you physically damage the disc).

    Also, the article doesn't mention whether these USB stick releases will be DRMed. Sony rootkit anyone?

  20. chris

    USB key?

    I feel slightly confused by this move...........

    So instead of the major record mafias allowing DRM free catalogs for online providers, we, as consumers, have to venture out of our comfortable abode to the record store and buy a USB stick. That will probably be DRM locked down. Which will only be able to be played in Windows Media Player after installing 3rd party software that will compromise my computer for a hacker to gain access.

    What's next? Are we going to buy USB stick Towers to hold our collection?

  21. Paul Bristow
    Thumb Down

    How many USB sticks do I need?

    I might buy one out of curiosity, but by the time you've got 10 USB sticks this would look bloody stupid. And if there is only one or two songs per USB stick? Do they seriously expect me to keep my music collection in a box of USB sticks? Have they even tried iTunes or any modern piece of music organisation software?

    Or in short. No, I do not think this is a good idea.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I would be delighted if.....

    The USB keys hold the DRM free wav versions of the music they're selling.

    Otherwise, why would you pay more for something in a format that will be useless in a few years which is also worse quality than a CD version.

    At least with the original unencumbered versions you could copy them to you're hard disk for use in the future.

    I suppose the upside is they wont take up as much space as a CD.

  23. Cameron Colley

    ha... hahaha... hahahahahahahaha... hahahahahaha...

    Well, it's finally happened has it? Consumers get to choose the end of reasonable quality music (in the form of CD) and replace it with DRM-ridden dross. What next, albums released in MIDI? Still, with the trash that is pop music I don't suppose it matters.

    Personally, I'll stick with artists who release in proper formats and don't use the RIAA to mug children.

  24. Nicholas Ettel
    Thumb Down

    Ummm... what?!

    Might I be the first to say, "WTF?!" How is going to solve anything? Beside the fact that the digital generation is not particularly interested in physical media (hence the title "digital"), this is a horrible idea: 1) Charging more for something with a smaller physical footprint; 2) CD's are arguably easier to store in mass quantities (spindels, shelves, books); 3) identification - unless The Man comes up with some ingenious (highly doubtful) way to ID the stick as to what's on it, I'm not going to know... I'm gonna have to spend the completely unnecessary time to plug it into a USB port and open the drive, that's in NO WAY easier; and 4) Re-usability -- will the sticks be read-only or erasable and reusable? Though, either way, purchasers will still have a metric f*ckton of USB drives just sitting around -- I don't use the two I have as it is now.

    Good job, Major Music Corp, way to come up with another absurdly horrendous idea. Learn to read, the signs blantantly say you're washed up, defeated... just die already.

  25. Scott

    USB Loyalty Cards

    See now, this would possibly make sense, in a way.

    Either buy a CD at normal price, or get a lossless version on your USB stick for discounted. Maybe offer incentives, such as tracks for free/discounted, or maybe extra multimedia content for using the stick. You could maybe pop into your local HMV, pop your stick into the specially designed Music Distribution Node, and get your tracks instantly on your stick. Or even a mini-MP3 player with USB connection free with your first purchase?

    Would save plastic now surely? No need to launch each title on a seperate stick. Thus saving the world :D

  26. Kenny Millar

    They STILL don't get it.

    The music industry are so far up their own backsides it's no wonder they talk s**t.

    They STILL don't get it. It's not just electronic formats we want - we can get digital content from a fecking CD for pete's sake. We want to be able to sit at our computers, laptops, wifi enabled MP3 Plalyers or whatever and download the content we want at a fair price. "Fair" should reflect the cost of production and distribution, but should NOT reflect the rip-off surcharge that the music industry have been getting away with for decades.

    Sticking the content on a flash drive doesn't make it eaiser to buy, or fairer. It's easier and fairer we want.

    Sticking it on a flash driver doesn't make it simpler. It's simple we want.

    Get your heads out of your pants, music industry, and start listening to the people who actually pay for your products.

  27. sunil
    Dead Vulture

    the decline of the high street music store is inevitable

    With more and more audio visual devices supporting USB, and memory prices dropping its only a matter of time before USB Multimedia replaces CDs and DVDs.

    With CDs, I would expect the continued reduction in sales on the high street. USB sticks could be bad for the stores in the long run as the high cost might drive further people to buy online. Expect gimmicks such as CDs with embedded USBconnectors to try and keep the experience fresh.

    DVDs should be next to drop the Disc as memory chip prices keep dropping though these are still not ready for mass online consumption due to download sizes. Streaming rather than downloads might be the way forward here and the online movie market will explode as more TVs become wifi enabled.

    The high street music shop alas has to reinvent itself to stay competitive with the convenience of online - or they risk fading into the backgruond and existing as Kiosks at the back of woolworths. Perhaps one way to keep the punters engaged might be to a live music scene hosted out of the music stores.

  28. kevin
    Thumb Down

    If it was cheaper maybe...

    I can understand when CDs first came out there was a premium since it was a new technology, but USB sticks are NOT new and are dirt cheap so there's no way in hell people are going to fork over more for them.

    Plus it's not like you can plug a usb stick into your home/car stereo yet so you're gonna have to burn it to a cd or port it over to an mp3 player anyway.

    Maybe they should try something new if they want to increase sales, like charging what the ONE song is really worth at release, say $2. I mean, that's still too much, but at least REASONABLE.

  29. A. Lewis

    @"Thing is".

    I thought the limiting factor on flash memory was write operations, not read. I would have thought you'd be mainly reading from these USB singles, not writing to.

    Even so though, is 10,000 not enough? Who really listens to a CD 10,000 times before ripping it or getting bored of it...

  30. Malcolm

    What a waste...

    Why a USB drive when an SD card or similar would surely be cheaper to produce/transport/etc. (and USB->SD adaptors are available for less than £5).

    Although I seem to remember they've tried distributing music on SD cards before with predictable levels of success (ie. none). Why would a USB drive fair any better?

  31. Ash


    Dear Media Companies,




    Me, as nobody else seems to care.

  32. Geoff Johnson

    RE: Store these with your CD collectiosn?

    Knowing the industry they'll package them in DVD style boxes. These take about 3 times as much space as CDs, but as they don't want to stock much in their huge shops that'll be good for them.

    As for DRM and Malware, I expect so on both counts.

    The only possible (though doubtful) plus on this is that you get a free USB stick with the music. I bet they're read only though.

  33. benito darder oliver

    Music industry still wants to sell you a media

    instead of realize that now there is no need of media; it's enough to download the music/film to your computer. But they can't admit that, everybody who's between the artist and the public would not get a penny.

  34. Daniel
    Jobs Horns


    well, butter my arse.

    that's utterly craptastic, kids.

  35. Steve Evans

    Ooooh blimee..

    Time to disable autorun on USB media detected then.

  36. Dunstan Vavasour


    "physical music sales". Why do people do this to our language?

    Still, it's not as bad as the ubiquitous "copyright theft" - the whole reason for copyright laws is that the offence *isn't* covered by theft.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    to see so many negative opinions. i thought it would be quite handy to pick up a usb and just drag the content to my harddrive instead of waiting for a itunes or whatever to churn through the cd.

    its small, it fits in my pocket.

    and video clips are interesting.

    i honestly think there is probably 200% more chance that i'll buy one than a cd.

    assuming that drm isnt prohibitive (or the work around is a background-task) then it makes life a little bit simpler.

    my music system is by my computer anyway and i constant play music through my headphone socket on my laptop to the amp and speakers.

    im not saying its great idea until i see what the drm is, but its certainly interesting and i have long since stopped buying cds years ago. this at least might make do an impulse buy as its little and hopefully more convinient.

  38. Anonymous Coward

    Not persuaded

    Hahahahahaha. Put something into my PC that could contain an executable placed there by a record company? You have to be kidding.

    For the first 10 years after CDs came out, I bought loads. From then on I used WinMX and now simply torrent everything. I figure I paid the record companies plenty in those first 10 years, in fact I probably need to torrent a stack more albums before I feel the amount of music I own is worth the money I spent on CDs back then.

  39. Luke Wells
    Thumb Down

    Oh dear

    The only reason that I buy CD's (of music that I have downloaded and have decided that I really like, and will play more than once) is because As well as their being a CD player in my car, I have a high end sound system in my living room and want to listen to music "properly" in a lossless format... on a CD, that fits in my CD player.

    Whats the point in having a premium audio system, premium speakers and even speaker cable that costs more than your average all in one hifi from Curys/Comet if you are they going to try and run a PC/mp3 streamer though it so that you can play some 128k DRM'd mp3 files through it?

    Thats the only thing that keeps music sales alive in my opinion, the fact that there are people that either dont want the hassles of having to deal with mp3's OR that they apreciate sound quality and know that CD offers the best audio quality at the moment

  40. Tom

    USB in-car grooviness

    My H&B car stereo has USB and SD-RAM slots in it. Best £80 I ever spent. Something tells me that they mightn't have paid any licensing fees for the mp3 codecs though - they don't seem to make them any more.

    That's neither here nor there though. Record companies can go stick their DRM-infested USB sticks up their A&Rs.

    By the way, get your free, unshackled ambient dub and trip-hop electronica mp3s at :-)

  41. Rob King
    Thumb Down

    Major Flaw

    If I want to listen to music in the car I put a CD in the player, be it a bought or a burned one, and im off. How can I do this with a USB drive? I seriously doubt the labels will leave it non-copy protected so I wont be able to transfer the music to CD - and if I did, wouldn't defy the whole point of the exercise?

  42. Raheim Sherbedgia
    Thumb Down

    God These Guys are Asshats

    CD sales still far exceed online sales, in part because real music junkies are willing to pay the extra for the cover art and album notes. Obviously there are other reasons too, but album art means a lot to many people. Seeing as how CD's are the only thing the labels have going for them right now, it seems stupid to eliminate the CD's.

    Now, onto more practical matters...landfills full of USB memory devices is a really stupid idea. Once the DRM is hacked these things will go right into the bin. Clogging up the water table with terribly toxic chemicals and killing penguins by the score. Record labels are moosecocks, they treat their customers like shit, now they're going to treat the planet like shit. Way to go guys.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    So, just to recap .....

    Where can I play my old, un-hip cd's? Oh yes, in my hi-fi, my portable cd player, my dvd player, the car, my portable radio/cd player, my computer, my portable dvd player, and of course, I can rip them to my mp3 player!

    Now, where can I play the USB Styx, Hmmmmmmm, errrrr, Ahhh, the computer, errrmmm, my laptop, mmmmm, can I rip it to my mp3player? Dunno.

    IMHO, a waste of effort and money!

  44. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Compared to a CD?



    Compressed?________Uncompressed_________Your choice

    DRM?______________No DRM_______________Your choice

    No (visible) art_______Sleeve art/notes_________Previews available

    Huge waste_________Slightly lesser waste______0%waste


    Compatible?________Universally compatible_____If you can DL, you can play


    Progress redefined!

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Probably not

    No, this is a very bad idea. As always the record companies are trying to infect us with DRM and I'm pretty sure the songs on the USB stick are DRM protected. Therefore I believe this is ANOTHER bad move by the record monopolists that will eventually end in dismall failure.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    What 'Post-CD' era?!!

    The CD is still alive and will stay the premier recording medium for decades to come. No one is interested in a DRM -infected successor to the CD. NO ONE!

    I find it disgusting that the Reg even tries to go along with the record-company-centric view that the CD is dead. They'd WISH it was dead so they can plug all holes and force people to pay for EACH TIME you hit the 'Play' button on your music-player.

  47. Niall Campbell
    Thumb Down

    How do flick through alubums when they're bluddy sticks!!!

    Most pathetic attempt yet from sad record company...

    For a start, the 'artists' whose recordings they are selling are a huge pile of dog doodoo IMHO.

    Pandora's Box has been opened – It can't be shut!!!

    When will these Shat Fer Brains learn. Methinks never!!

  48. Timbo
    Paris Hilton


    Ah...! So you too were hoodwinked by the "perfect digital sound" marketing angle on CD....!

    <quote>At the moment, you buy a CD to avoid DRM and to get it in the highest quality possible.</quote>

    CD's are recorded at 16 bit, so they aren't the "best" quality...24 bit CD would be much better....but no one does this in a consumer friendly "package" that is marketed properly...

    The highest quality is basically on a master tape somewhere, or on LP or on SACD......all of which are on their last legs...master tapes you can't get hold of (en masse), LPs are difficult to handle, inconvenient, last 25 minutes per side (and then need turning over) and need a "player" that isn't portable...SACD never really took off, despite backing from Sony and one or two others...

    And, of course, the record companies would just love us all to go out and buy the same music again (eg did I hear Pink Floyd was mentioned), so they make more money from something that's already been available before on LP, quadraphonic (CD4, QS, SQ), eight track, music-cassette, CD, DAT, SACD, MiniDisc, DVD-A, MP3 downloads, iTunes and now flash-drives...hell some of the stuff was even probably on shellac and spun at 78 rev's.....and I can also remember the BT "Dial A Disc" service - put your money in the slot and hear your favourite tune down the phone line.....! (Given that you can now download music over the phone line...someone at BT was almost ahead of the game back then...!)

    Roll on the next human upgrade - a Wi-Fi connection wired straight into your brain...and cut out the middle man....!

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    longer lasting media

    it would be better if they would use some form of prom or eprom instead of flash. music media has always suffered from degradation from use. cassettes fade and stretch, CDs and vinyl albums get scratched and skip. It will be nice to have consistent and durable media.

    As for greenness, i doubt that usb keys are any worse that CDs or tape cassettes, though vinyl albums were almost fully recyclable.

  50. vinylmeister

    Nothing beats...

    Nothing beats the looks, feel and odor of vinyl records

  51. Giles Jones Gold badge

    WAV or Mp3?

    If it's mp3 then this is the end of decent audio quality.

    SACD won't take off neither will DVD-audio. We're now stuck with mp3 and it's crummy quality.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    i love the smell of rootkits in the morning

    of course every label will employ its own rootkit ( with revokable keys ) or better every new stick has a new rootkit. That'll be fun.

    500 Gbyte harddisk. 450 Gigabyte used by all the DRM rootkits and 5 gigabyte to store about 5000 tracks ...

  53. Phil Holden

    There could be some advantages

    OK so the odds are that this WILL NOT happen, but...

    The audio provided COULD be 24-bit 192Khz as we're no longer limited by the outdated spec of CD's. As a lot of folk haven't got a DVD-Audio player this could be the way for us to move to a higher quality audio reproduction than the CD's we're currently buying, without having to shell out for a new player.

    I'm no fan of the MP3 as to my ears they sound lacking in depth and very often hihats sound like clinking milkbottles (reminiscent of my old 8-bit Amiga sampler)

    But then as has already been pointed out playback is limited to your PC, but not everyone will find this a problem.

    I would also like it if the data and DRM license can be copied to your harddisc then we wouldn't have to dig the thing out every time we want to listen to it, which is currently easy to do with cd's.

  54. Vladimir Plouzhnikov


    OMG, I put a USB memory stick into my expensive CD player and it does not give it back!

    Oh, it does not play it either!

    Aa-a-ah, the lights on the front panel have just gone off!

    O-o-oh! and smoke is coming out! and what is that rattling sound coming from the inside???

  55. shane

    Step 1 of many I hope to get it right

    This is not a great plan but is a baby step in the right direction with a lot of if's.

    I reakon the music stores need to have a AMM's(Automated Music Machines) like the banks have ATMs.

    With no bullshit DRM that force us to buy the same thing for diferent devices. Sure we can download it at home but what if you don't have a computer or I am a untrusting sole that does not like putting my hard earned cash or credit card on the NET.

    These AMM's should be very simple yet have advanced features for Audiophiles to select higher bit rates and different formats instead of just MP3's at no extra charge.

    We should be able to walk up to the music store AMM and plug our MP3 player or flash drive or SD card, XD card etc... trial the music we want if necessary then load 1,2 3 or as many songs as we want for a reasonable price say 50c a song and less for 20 or more and a $1 for latest release popular stuff. And also charge seperate for the album art and videos and the making of and wallpaper and screensaver etc. would you like the Best of with that its only $2 extra get the picture....and of course the AMM would give you an itemised receipt for the music you purchase.

    That way I can see the world of piracy changing for the better, kids will hear a songs they like on the radio and on the way home from school pop into their local shopping centre plug into the AMM and pay for there music and thats just the tip of the ice burg.

    At the point we are at now the RIAA must accept they cant beat piracy and they are with their current efforts alienating themselves so they must make piracy seem pointless to the consumer and give them a sence of ownership when they purchase their music it must be playable where ever thay want it. Then it will be frowned upon to pirate music because everything has be done to make it available,flexible,reasonable. Believe me it is rarely frowned upon now and commonly the norm.

  56. Flocke Kroes Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Encourage P2P to increase lawsuit revenues

    Music on USB is pointless. For music I am looking for:

    No DRM

    High quality FLAC

    Still no DRM

    A clear digitally signed license allowing me to listen to the music on my own devices, and to play it for others in my own home.

    A clear statement about how much money went to musicians and song writers.

    No DRM

    If the recording industry wants money from honest people, they can get it by treating them fairly. There is no technical measure that will prevent illegal distribution, and no need for one:

    Suing children for illegally distributing music on P2P is OK with me. Its a big revenue stream from dishonest people, so I can understand why the RIAA encourages people to distribute. I would like to see some of that money going to musicians and song writers, but perhaps I just live in a dream world.

    A more useful service would be to let me go into a shop, plug my laptop into their network, pay for a film and download it. Although it is possible to download films from the internet, it gives money to the telco's, and they have plenty. I would prefer to see a higher proportion of the money I spend on films going to people involved in creating them. (My laptop harddisk does 44MB/s, but it is 7200rpm. Other people should expect to wait 3 minutes to download a DVD over a local network.)

    Standard flash memory misunderstandings: Each sector of flash memory can be written a limitted number of times. Years ago this was about 10,000 but now 100,000 is considered small. USB storage devices are supposed to map unchanging content onto worn sectors to improve the life time of the device. Cheap USB storage devices have poor wear levelling algorithms, so they die quickly.

  57. Tiki Mon
    Thumb Down

    How asinine!

    If I don't want a collection of CDs cluttering up my house, what the hell would I want a drawer full of USB keys for? Then there's the millions of these which will collect dust or go to landfills - huge waste issues. And since Fair Use is anathema to the record biz, you'll have to actually insert the stick to play the tune. Simply stupid!

    What moron came up with this idea, and what committee of morons thought it was a good idea?

    Here's the way to do USB sticks: Walk into a shop, buy a track, and copy it to YOUR OWN keydrive, DRM-free. I won't hold my breath...

  58. Mike Fleischmann

    One simple point

    Did it occur to anyone to see if the USB was read only. If so then a real waste of money, cause I can't re-use it if I don't like the song anymore.

  59. heystoopid

    Most Interesting!

    Most interesting now we have music with an expiry date to self delete too by supplying it on a flash drive !

    Given the US Customs penchant for confiscating computer hard drives I can see a Customs Officer opening a laptop bag storage flap and spying all these new USB music sticks and confiscating the lot for further investigation ! Then defacing your passport throwing you into a rank holding cell for the next 48 hours and permanently cancelling your US Entry Visa and ignoring your requests to see any lawyer or diplomatic staff.

    After this indignity literally toss you on the next flight home and say "Kid we don't like your kind in this country go home and don't come back !" .

  60. Steve Dulieu
    Black Helicopters

    But what if they're playing the long game

    If I were a forward thinking pigopolist, what I'd do is, at the start, release the music in a non-drm lossless format, of a quality *greater* than is currently available on CD *or* vinyl but for a similar price. Sit back and bask in the reflected glow of astonished but greatful punters for, ooh say about the 36 months that will be required for market penatration to be total with USB playback devices (USB-PD) (both windows and mac based) and the complete distruction of the CD and vinyl markets. Then announce that dispite thier mumnificence and thier trust of the said punters not to rip them off, piracy remains as big a problem as it ever was and as of tomorrow all USB stick music would unfortunately have to be DRM'ed up to the gills but would ship with a *free* copy of the required software on every stick to enable playback on said USB-PDs. Of course, those of us who are savvy to this sort of fuckery will squeal like Paris at the opening of a shoe shop, but yer person on the Clapham omnibus? Probably just shrug and pony up the dough...

  61. sheepdog

    Interesting collectors item

    Consider that they will probably come in heat shrinked wrapping which is impossible to take off without getting out a big knife (I do 'cos its more fun), I see a small niche market for collectors of sealed items.Another format, another potential bit of promo kit. I don't care about quality of the recording I care about future resale value and collectabliltiy. After all, that is part of the fun of collecting and owning music isn't it?

  62. Daniel

    new formats

    i agree in the fact we need a new format, cd is old now and dvd audio... well what happened to it?

    CD's although perfect quality are large in size and dont offer anything fantastic. well mini dvd's are around why did noone think to just bung a cd's worth onto a mini dvd? that would cut down space and offer the same if not more space. If this isnt a good enough solution, the data density of blueray is huge in comparison, imagine what little size is needed to fit a high quality cd's worth, it would be tiny. Innovation doesnt have to be leaps and bounds, just enough everynow and again to keep us interested!

  63. Christian Berger

    Might be a good idea

    The point is like this, consumers want to get something for their money. Currently if you buy music you get a PVC disk with some bits on, or a small part of those bits for download. People are actually paying more for getting a vinyl disc with the information inscribed in an analog form.

    So what do you get here? You get an USB-stick which also contains music.

    However to correctly judge this format, some crucial pieces of information are missing:

    1. Is there any DRM on this format?

    2. Can the old content be deleted?

  64. Joe


    This really is a non-starter at Reg Club, isn't it? (Dreadful idea though, I agree with the general consensus here.)

    The rest of the world really should start consulting us before making decisions like this!

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I was wondering what would happen to...

    the massive stockpiles of 32/64/128/256 & 512MB usb sticks. They finally found a way to reuse them, well that and breakfast cereal box giveaways ...

  66. hans-peter carpenter
    Paris Hilton

    CD's not "cool"?

    Most CD's are cool, except the ones with any music on it from any band that made it to the top in the last 10 years (with a couple, yes two, exceptions) ... I have about 10 000 songs at home, most, 95 or 96% legally purchased (the other 4% are songs you just cannot find - small indie bands from vanished labels) and the only artist I have that came out in the last 10 years is Keane! wtf? Am I getting old!

    I bought all the music I dreamt of when I was a student but could not afford. What new stuff do they have to offer? Now I revert to classical music, when I buy stuff, because there just isn't anything new coming out ... and no, I have a few U2's from 80's and 90's ... but even their new stuff is boring ...

    CD's, Digi CD (that CD plus format you can get with "better" audio), USB, MINI-DISK etc who cares ? give us quality entertainment! no brtiney, dillon, desreee (sorry, i dunno how to spell these weird names) and these other weirdos that call themself artists and perform playback allthetime- and please, once you have found something that is even so-so, do not have the radio/tv/whatever broadcast it more than 3 times a day.

  67. Matthew

    missing the point?

    Lol i seam to remember reading "pussycat dolls" in the article.... do i want to hear that in high quality?? it wont make it sound any better so i don't think music quality is an issue =)

    Heh anyway, what a retarded idea....

    so i pay more, get a lower quality format... DRM... malware... no album art....can't play it in my hi fi system...

    what a great step backwards!

  68. Leonard
    Thumb Up

    It's about time

    CD is dead. It's too big and doesn't hold enough. USB flash drives are the best portable storage solutions around. Let's hope Sony doesn't put a virus on it.

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    I can see a couple of flaws releasing music on pendrive:

    - Will the stick be pre-infected with a virus like many of Sony's CDs?

    - Will The songs be encoded at a format I don't want i.e. WMA 64kbps with it's cumbersome DRM?

    - How many car radios have a thumb drive reader? Now compare: How many car radios have a CD deck built in or added on?

    - What if my pesky little sister comes into my room, takes my thumb drive, formats it, and uses it to store her assignments instead? Heck, what if my thumb drive gets infected with a virus somehow? Or accidentally goes into the wash?

    - US$3.50 More?

    - Does a thumb drive fall under Amazon's policy of exporting music? I can buy a music CD off Amazon and have it shipped internationally to where I am. Amazon doesn't ship USB thumbs overseas, nor does it allow international buyers onto it's unbox service. Buy locally? The stuff I listen to is not sold locally.

    No thanks, I prefer CDs for plenty of good reasons.

  70. stolennomenclature

    how long would the connector last?

    Im just wondering how long before the physical USB connector wore out, on the music device itslef but especially on the host. The connectors look fragile to me an i have already had one self dustruct on a keyboard.

  71. stolennomenclature

    temporary music?

    I hope we are not forgetting that flash memory is not permanent - eventually the data leaks away. Some time ago I heard the figure ten years touted as the expected lifespan. Perhaps its greater by now, but enyhow lets hope people realise that eveutally the music on the sticks will evaporate.

    Of course foe the record companies this is a wonderful feature, and I suspect one of the main reasons behind the move.

    Of course on the other hand todays music is such shite that it is altogether a good thing that it wont be permanent.

  72. Nathan Askew

    I know, believe me.

    Just so you know, the Universal releases will not be DRM'd. They are high bit rate MP3s. So with this in mind, it is better than download, also the memory is re-usable so you have an artist branded memory stick. Maybe not as bad as most reggers think?

  73. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    What ever happened to the old analogue music?

    I still buy vynil, but mainly CDs these days. I'll give in to digital on a CD, but I don't buy and download music online - I like having the whole deal, not just a file on the harddrive.

    Personally I don't really want to buy a new sound system just to play off usb sticks - I like the one I have.

  74. Brian K. Trotter
    Jobs Horns

    Not very Eco-Friendly

    As somebody who has worked a great deal in the plastics industry, I can say this is not a very "eco-friendly" alternative, Even if the flash drives take a small fraction of the plastic of a CD and Jewel Case, they'll be packaged in PVC clamshells large enough to make it difficult for shoplifters from smuggling them out of the stores. The last two SD chips I bought for my current mp3 player had more plastic hitting the trash can before the chip was even used than a CD has if you just threw it away without opening it, and it's environmentally the most damaging form of plastic made.

    As for the DRM issues... we all know that eventually we'll all get stuck with the RIAA's thumb(drives) up our tailpipes anyways. But I'd want some form of assurance that I'd be able to A) safeguard my purchase, B) transfer them to my NON-APPLE $20.00 mp3 player, and C) transfer them to a CD to play in my car.

  75. Jake W Smith

    Doesn't affect me....

    I still buy vinyl and I'll continue to buy vinyl. Vinyl is best.

    woohoo to vinyl.

  76. Scott Mckenzie

    Well there goes quality...

    ....if they get rid of CD's then that's it really, quality music and recordings has gone, sure CD may not be the be all and end all of quality, but i've not yet heard an SACD/DVD-Audio player than can outperform a genuine top quality CD player.. but people like me who appreciate music and buy a lot of CDs probably don't matter compared to yoofs who enjoy playing music through their mobile phone whilst walking down the high street like dirty harry.

    I really hope they see sense and stick with the decent format that offers portability, extendability and most of all quality!

  77. Gerry Doyle

    USB is the best thing since vinyl

    Dunno about you lot, but I have gotten well sick of supposedly eternal CDs becoming scratched and unusable after a week or two of hard handling in the car, mostly by the kids. I've had to make copies of every CD I bought and use that for the few weeks that it might last. The result has been stacks of useless silver disks all over the place or fast-forwarding to find a non-skipping track.

    Recently I bought a new car stereo with an SD slot, a USB port and an AUX jack, and life has become so much simpler. I bought a 1GB key for each of the 3 sprogs and leave them to put whatever they want on them - and no more burning of entire CDs just to add one song to the playlists. No more CDs in fact. They take turns with the keys, or plug their mp3 players into the USB port or the AUX jack, and control it all by the remote.

    Everything that I want to hear, well OK, that they DON'T want to hear, is on my own key.

    And the entire collection is stored in the hitherto-defunct ashtray!

    The player will also rip from CD to USB so I only need to play a new CD once on the way home from buying it...

    And if 1GB isn't enough space for them? Tough, they can delete something that they probably never listened to anyway.

    As for vinyl, I'm still playing albums that were pressed over 30 years ago.

  78. Anonymous Coward

    I Bought Two USB Singles

    This year I bought two of these USBSingles.

    I can confirm both came in a shrink wrapped piece of card the size of a paper cdsingle, i.e. not a jewel case single.

    Both had tracks on it with video content too.

    Guess what, NON DRM too.

    However, the quality was awful, they were encoded at 160kbs and the memory sticks were 64mb.

    Now, I won't buy anymore, but I would rather have HQ DRM music on the stick than crappy quality tunes.

This topic is closed for new posts.