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Warp Records lead the way with Bleep.com


Story: Jack Foley

WARP Records, the London-based independent music and film company, has officially become the first record label in the world to make their back catalogue available as pay-per-track MP3 downloads.

bleep.com will be the official online Warp Records outlet selling the label’s catalogue in MP3 format.

bleep.com aims to be the quickest and easiest method of downloading Warp music from the internet. Unlike p2p file sharing or even iTunes, bleep.com does not require users to install proprietary software to access Mp3 downloads.

As the site develops into a complete digital delivery service, more content will become available, including back catalogue and new releases from additional labels, films, games and ringtones. It will immediately extend the direct link between fans and the label, and users will quickly find they are further rewarded with priority information and access to gig tickets, merchandise, download exclusives and more.

For the first time, many of the most sought after early Warp releases (either on limited vinyl or even cassette) by the label’s biggest names will become available again, including single tracks and whole EPs from Aphex Twin (in his AFX and Polygon Window guises), Autechre, Gescom, Drexciya and more.

While free, pirated MP3s of Warp tunes already exist on illegal p2p file sharing sites, bleep.com will have an immediate advantage in eliminating the time-consuming, random element of downloading music – fake or wrongly titled tracks, inferior quality, lengthy download times and general unreliability of pirate sites, which can also be portals for spyware and other internet nasties.

Accessing music directly from the Warp site will guarantee ease of access to exact tracks or albums, superfast downloads, online security and reasonable prices.

Warp audio uses the renowned LAME (http://lame.sourceforge.net/) compressor. This is widely acknowledged to give superior results for both sound quality and manageable file sizes.

Pricing in the UK for single tracks and standard albums is:

UK
SINGLE TRACK - £0.99
STANDARD ALBUM PRICE - £6.99

SMS
SINGLE TRACK - £1.50
STANDARD ALBUM PRICE - £10.50

PAYPAL
SINGLE TRACK - £1.09
STANDARD ALBUM PRICE - £7.69

Downloads can be paid for with credit and debit cards with SMS, paypal and nochex available soon.

Warp Records MD, Steve Beckett, commented: "The i-Pod has got to be the coolest thing that's happened in the music technology arena since the walkman, and people need MP3s to play on them.

"We've done the odd download on our Warp Records site and the results have been surprisingly positive, so we are just dipping our toes in the water as we did with Warp Mart - the physical mail order of CDs - and seeing if people want it."

Beckett also announced that two brand new Squarepusher tracks, Squarewindow and Talk About You And Me would launch bleep.com and be available exclusively as MP3 downloads, before later being released commercially as a limited 12” release on January 26.

The tracks will not be included on the forthcoming Squarepusher album Ultravisitor, scheduled for March 8, 2004.

bleep.com is designed by The Designers Republic and built by Kleber using open source software.

From its origins as an independent record shop in Sheffield, Warp Records has been a pioneer, not only as a record label pursuing and developing the newest sounds and most adventurous artists, including Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Autechre, Boards of Canada, LFO, Vincent Gallo, Plaid, Prefuse 73 and many others, but as a forward-thinking business enterprise.

In 1996, Warp Records extended its website further to become an online shop - Warpmart. An award-winning site, renowned internationally as a hub of news and links to the alternative music community, Warpmart stocks releases by many other well known independent labels (such as Rephlex, Anticon, Mush, Planet Mu, Skam, Def Jux, Mille Plateux, Force Trax, Kompakt et al) and prides itself on having a loyal customer base, who are rewarded with bonus freebies and artist exclusives not available in shops. Warpmart contributes 10% of Warp’s annual £6 million turnover, making it an unusually successful and profitable online business.

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