Universal Music Group International is throwing its muscle behind a new three-tiered packaging and pricing system which it hopes will continue to drive consumer demand for physical product.

Universal Music Group International is throwing its muscle behind a new three-tiered packaging and pricing system which it hopes will continue to drive consumer demand for physical product.

The music major today (July 5) unveiled the new layered structure, which it will roll out for its CDs across Europe from Sept. 18.

From that date, UMGI will upgrade the traditional "jewel box" CD case with a "Super Jewel Box" packaging -- essentially the same as the Super Audio CD box -- for all new releases.

The Scissor Sisters' "Ta-Dah!", the Killers' as-yet untitled sophomore set and the first solo album from the Black Eyed Peas' Fergie will be the first albums issued on what UMGI describes as the "stronger, more durable" packaging.

UMGI anticipates shipping more than 100 million albums in the "Super Jewel Box" format during the first 12 months of the switchover.

At the top-end of the new structure, UMGI will offer a "DeLuxe" version for all major artist album releases. The package will contain an exclusive, limited edition bonus CD or DVD, offering additional audio or video content.

Selected albums released more than a year ago will be offered in a "Basic" format, which will be packaged in a streamlined slide-pack CD case. Certain titles, however, will continue to be available in the "jewel box" packaging, according to a UMGI spokesman.

UMGI is recommending the three formats be priced at, on average, €19.99 ($25) for "DeLuxe," €14.99 ($19) for "Standard," and €9.99 ($12.7) for the "Basic" options. A UMGI spokesman declined to disclose the dealer price.

"As our digital business continues to accelerate, as we anticipated, this is also an exciting time to improve our physical CD offer - and at no extra cost to the fans," comments UMGI chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge. "We've listened to their views about value and choice, and we're giving them more music-buying options than ever."

The major says it embarked on the new approach only after conducting extensive market research and trials in the region.

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