Universal Classics and Jazz today (Jan. 10) officially launched what it proclaims as the largest online destination for classical and jazz downloads.

The à la carte service, which was given a soft launch prior to Christmas, currently boasts more than 125,000 titles, starting at £0.79 ($1.53) per track.

Roughly 1,500 titles will be added each month. Tracks are offered as 320K Stereo WMA files. Exclusive content and reviews are also part of the Classics and Jazz online offering.

Speaking at the launch this morning at central London's Home House, UCJ managing director Dickon Stainer described the service as "the most exciting development in classical and jazz music in recent years."

Mark Wilkinson, UCJ GM of marketing, added, "We expect sales to be relatively modest (initially). But by the third quarter we expect it to make a positive contribution to the business."

Currently, the download store offers only Universal catalog -- from labels including Deutsche Grammophon, Decca Philips and Concord -- but plans are to open up the operation to third-party labels in the coming year. At present, only U.K. users can download works from the site; UCJ aspires to make available the operation to international markets by Q2.

Other features, including video, podcasts, ringtones and downloadable album artwork, will roll out in 2007.