Sony-BMG said it hopes its combined model, selling a download pass through a physical store, will lead to greater sales of physical and digital music.
Albums need a boost, as the number sold in the U.S. dropped again last year, even as the number of music purchases rose, market watcher Nielsen SoundScan reported last week.
U.S. music buyers made 1.4 billion music purchases in 2007, up from 1.2 billion a year earlier, Nielsen said.
Nielsen counts a purchase as an album, single, CD or online download. Within that figure, digital track sales rose from 582 million to 844 million as buyers cherry-picked the tracks they liked from albums available online, while physical album sales (whether sold in-store or over the Internet, but excluding downloads) fell to 451 million in 2007, from 556 million in 2006, it said.
But if U.S. consumers are making more music purchases, they may be spending less: Nielsen also counts something it calls track-equivalent album sales, in which it counts 10 track downloads as the equivalent of an album. By that measure, track-equivalent album sales fell 9.5 percent to 585 million in 2007, from 646 million in 2007.