HMV Canada defends online music store

Critics dismiss the move as coming 10 years too late, but music retailer HMV Canada launched an online music store this week — its latest attempt to drive new revenue with dwindling CD sales.

Critics say move to go digital comes 10 years too late

Music retailer HMV Canada launched an online music store this week, its latest attempt to drive new revenue in the face of dwindling CD sales.

CEO Humphrey Kadaner appeared on the CBC's Lang and O'Leary Exchange this week to trumpet the plan.

Critics have suggested the move is unlikely to work since it merely apes the business model of already-successful digital music stores such as Apple Inc.'s iTunes service, a notion Kadaner rejects.

"We differentiate ourselves on quality," he said.

While the price of most songs will be identical to that sold on iTunes, Kadaner says music purchased at is a better value because of its versatility.

"This really allows us to meet the changing needs of our customers," he said.

He also dismissed concerns that the service would be impacted by new legislation presented in Ottawa last month that aims to overhaul Canada's copyright laws.

"The proposed copyright law says if there are digital locks on music, they shouldn't be circumvented. In this case, the music we're buying from record companies doesn't have locks, we pay for the right to sell it without those locks and we're selling it to consumers in a similar fashion," Kadaner said.

That will let consumers use the music wherever and whenever they want, he said.

He also hinted that the company has other ideas in the pipeline, including soon selling high-definition movies on its new online service, and is toying with the idea of getting into live music events, something its U.K. parent company is experimenting with.