Tower Records is adding a digital download store to its retail offerings, with the launch of tower.com/digital on Tuesday June 27.

Tower Records is adding a digital download store to its retail offerings, with the launch of tower.com/digital on Tuesday June 27. The store will offer 1.2 million tracks, all encrypted with Windows Media Audio at a higher bitrate (192 kbps) than most online stores (128 kbps).

The site is powered by PureTracks, using artist biographical information and other artist data supplied by Muze, and will be marketed by towerrecords.com and the chain's 89 U.S. stores. “One of the key things is we will integrate this store with our traditional ways of selling music,” says Tower Records VP of marketing Mike Jansta.

Tower executives are confident they can leverage their relationship with labels to obtain exclusive online content, which can be tied to buying a CD in the store. Additionally, they will work hard to buttress content by negotiating with labels to get more tracks available at their store, instead of relying solely on Puretracks to license music.

A key focus for the Tower team when building the store was the user experience and they strived to make the online offering “very easy to use,” says Tower Records chief marketing officer Russ Eisenman.

That’s why tower.com/digital customers will place downloads they are purchasing in a basket. With a basket, customers don’t have to “install a program on their computers that allows for downloads like most other digital download stores require,” Jansta adds. The basket will place the download “into your default mymusic folder, or if you are an advanced computer user, you can save it wherever you want.”

Also, using Windows Media, customers can transfer the file to a portable player or burn CDs.

Tracks on the site typically cost 99 cents while albums retail for $9.99. Tower executives said one of the reasons why they didn’t consider offering a subscription model is because that type of service still has a lot of problems and therefore is not easy to use.