Universal Music Group has announced plans to bypass the CD release cycle and deliver a selection of digital-only releases.
The first such release will be The Shazam, signed to Universal's UMe Digital unit. The Shazam's music will be available online at music stores like iTunes, MSN Music, and Napster, rather than in high street stores such as HMV.
The move means that Universal will avoid many of the complications associated with standard contracts, such as advances, tour support, and other financial commitments, according to Digital Music News.
The band will be able to sell their own CDs on services like Amazon – retaining rights to its master recordings. They will also receive a royalty split of 25 per cent on all digital sales.
Digital Music News indicates that Universal does not expect to make major revenue from these initial forays, but it does give the group a low-cost way to gauge demand for new acts, avoiding costly upfront commitments.
Universal enterprises digital senior director Jay Gilbert said: "If the artist wants to put out a physical CD and the sales warrant it, we'll do that through one of our other labels."