WEA Corp. Announces Partnership With Leading Independent Retail Coalitions to Launch Digital Stores

05/01/06
Initiative Builds on Continued Effort to Provide Resources to Independent Music Community

NEW YORK, NY, May 01, 2006 -- WEA Corp., Warner Music Group Corp.'s (NYSE: WMG) U.S. sales and retail marketing company, today announced a partnership with three leading independent retail coalitions to provide their members with the resources and tools to open digital download stores to complement their existing online and brick and mortar businesses.

The three independent coalitions, the Coalition of Independent Music Stores (CIMS), Association of Independent Media Stores (AIMS) and Music Monitor Network (MMN), include the foremost independent music stores in the country.

WEA is working with B3 Corp., one of the leading providers of direct-to-consumer commerce services for the entertainment industry, to create retailer branded digital commerce stores. This partnership will enable independent retailers to offer for download a wide array of music from all major labels, including independent and local artists as well as hard-to-find titles. With WEA's support, stores will also be able to offer consumers the following:

  • Digital bundles (digital albums packaged with extra content including videos, interactive digital booklets and bonus tracks in a single downloadable file);
  • Downloads of in-store performances;
  • Music downloads from local artists;
  • Coupon-based download promotions.

In making the announcement, John Esposito, President and CEO of WEA, said, "Supporting the independent music community is part of our core strategy. Today's announcement demonstrates our view that the independent retail community is critical and vibrant. We seek to eliminate barriers to entry for independents that want to participate in the digital music space."

"We are really excited at the prospect of jumping into the digital arena with WEA and B3. They have just the technology we need for a credible solution right off the bat. If it were not for WEA's hard work and generosity, this launch would have never come to fruition," said Don VanCleave, President of CIMS.

"At last year's NARM, when John Esposito asked indie-retail what they most needed to remain in the music business, we answered 'a level-playing field.' What we wanted was an opportunity to sell the same items as our online competition in the same time frame. At best, we'd hoped for a slow- down in the preferential treatment that other major online music stores have received from the music industry; we did not expect the gift of a digital delivery solution for all of our stores. What WEA has given us is a fighting chance and a level playing field," said Eric Levin, President of AIMS.

"The Music Monitor Network and its 11 independently owned music retailers across the USA are thrilled to be able to help launch this project with WEA and B3. Once our operations are fully functional, and we can set flexible pricing for downloads as well as offer all conditions of products for sale on line, we think we can take the on line shopping experience to a whole new level. This is going to be especially true when we offer fans exclusive and unique local, regional, and national recordings. None of this could have happened without the vision and leadership of WEA's President John Esposito and his staff of serious music people," said Michael Kurtz, President of MMN.

WEA and B3 Corp. plan to begin providing digital downloading resources and infrastructure to the first set of online stores in May 2006.

About WEA Corp.

WEA was the first major music distribution company in the U.S. and has continued to set the standard for sales and marketing in the music industry for more than thirty years. In addition to the Warner Bros., Elektra and Atlantic labels, WEA distributes audio and video releases from Rhino Entertainment, Asylum Records, Word Entertainment, Time-Life Music, Warner Music Latina and Curb Records, as well as several other labels. WEA's e-Commerce department works with online and traditional retailers for all commercial, digital and wireless transactions on behalf of WMG's U.S. labels. The department develops and delivers sales and marketing programs to promote WMG's artists to online retailers and other partners.

Headquartered in New York, WEA Corp. has regional offices in Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York and Minneapolis.

About B3 Corp.

B3 is a Burbank, CA-based company providing comprehensive sales, marketing and transactional support for entertainment content companies, who are selling direct to consumers online. B3 provides a turnkey infrastructure for on-line e-commerce and features the ability to offer and sell multiple forms of music and music related products in a single shopping cart.