Last month, SanDisk announced slotMusic, a new initiative to distribute DRM-free major label music on 1 GB microSD cards. The idea is that folks can buy an album from their favorite artists on microSD media—and get album art and extras besides—and easily move the music to whatever media player or computer system they like.
Yesterday, SanDisk announced the first slotMusic cards are now shipping, including music from over 40 top mainstream artists ranging from Elvis Presley and Jimi Hendrix to Katy Perry and Usher. The disks should be available at Best Buy and Walmart for $14.99 each.
But what if you don’t have a device that supports microSD? Fear not: SanDisk is coming to your rescue with the slotMusic player, a $19.99 MP3 player that plays back slotMusic cards, as well as microSD cards loaded with DRM-free MP3 or WMA audio files. The players don’t offer any built-in memory of their own, but support microSD cards up to 16 GB in capacity. The device weighs just over two ounces and ships with a customizable black shell, earphones, and a battery.
SanDisk will also offer artist-branded slotMusic players for particular artists, bundling together a custom slotMusic player cover and a slotMusic card for that artist for $34.99.
The slotMusic players are available today in the U.S., and should be available in Europe and other markets in 2009. SanDisk will also offer slotMusic player accessories, including a card wallet, an armband, and custom shells.
The real question with SanDisk’s slotMusic initiative is “will anybody care?” In an age where Apple’s iTunes store is the top music retailer and CD sales are plummeting, will consumers really flock to retail locations to buy music on microSD cards at essentially the same price as a traditional CD…even if the tracks are in DRM-free high-quality MP3 format?