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Universal Music Quietly Expands Blu-Ray Pure Audio Album Releases To UK

Blu-ray-pure-audioUniversal Music is gradually introducing Blu-Ray Audio discs, or what they're calling High Fidelity Pure Audio, to international markets just in time for Christmas. Though Blu-Ray is a still-growing higher quality video alternative to DVD's, Blu-Ray Audio is being discussed as a niche play that some assume is doomed. So far the news has been given scant attention but Universal Music believes that Blu-Ray Audio can become a significant niche offering.

Universal Music began introducing its High Fidelity Pure Audio discs in the States back in May. The first 36 titles featured solid-selling catalog albums from artists as diverse as John Coltrane, Bob Marley, Serge Gainsbourg and Beethoven.

High Fidelity Pure Audio Promotional Video

Having also debuted in France earlier this year, Universal Music's Pure Audio discs are appearing in the UK [via Tone Deaf] this month.

Skeptics such as CNET's Steve Guttenberg and Engadget's Brad Hill believe the format is doomed as were other now-forgotten higher quality audio formats.

But Blu-Ray video sales are on the rise and Mark Savage of the BBC reports that the "initial batch of 35 titles have already achieved sales of more than 500,000" in France.

Olivier Robert Murphy, Universal's global head of new business, maintains that the popularity of vinyl shows that a higher quality physical format can now succeed and could represent a "very nice percentage of physical sales."

Muprhy noted the availability of lower-cost Blu-Ray players and claimed, "we have 33% of the population that already has a Blu-Ray player at home." He also pointed out that lower-quality digital downloads would be included in sales.

Though Murphy sees future potential in new albums released on Pure Audio discs and thinks distribution of the digital files is 3 or 4 years down the road, he believes the current market is interested in heritage or legacy acts:

"It's not necessarily a strategy...but what we realised is that initially we're talking to specialists, we're talking to a niche...I'm talking about the guy who spent 40 grand on his hi-fi system. Let's face it, this guy is probably 35-plus, and likes heritage artists."

Murphy said they will be growing the list of releases to 200 albums available in 14 countries. Apparently Warner Music and Sony are also testing the waters in France and Japan.

So I guess it is possible that a significant niche could emerge though somehow I doubt Blu-Ray can benefit from the aura that now surrounds vinyl for so many fans.

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Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch/@crowdfundingm) also blogs at Flux Research and Crowdfunding For Musicians. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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