Trade groups GERA and IFPI meet in London.

European retail group GERA-Europe has urged record labels to stop offering exclusive material for digital downloads and instead carry a policy of simultaneous release of digital and physical products.

The plea was made by GERA-Europe Advisory Group, consisting of the CEOs of Europe’s major entertainment retail groups, during a meeting this week with label’s body the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. The meeting was part of a new series of six-monthly gatherings of IFPI and GERA-Europe.

The heads of the two groups -- GERA president and Virgin Entertainment CEO Simon Wright and IFPI chairman and CEO John Kennedy -- met in London on June 22. They agreed that despite the excitement surrounding new digital downloading technologies, 97% of all music sales still concern the physical product, and sales strategies should continue to reflect this.

They urged stronger co-operation between the platforms used to sell music, especially over release dates. Wright said retailers wanted digital and physical products released simultaneously. That way, he said, consumer would be able to select their preferred channel for acquiring music. It would also create a level playing field for all entertainment retailers, physical and digital.

Retailers are concerned by the multiplication of exclusive deals on online platforms, such as the recent Coldplay single “Speed Of Sound” (Parlophone), which was sold on Apple’s iTunes Music Stores several weeks before its physical availability.

Wright said entertainment retailers had to embrace all forms of music sales. “However, the traditional sale of the physical product should continue to be recognized as the leading platform for music distribution and thus be the focus of attention to solutions needed to address market problems,” said Wright in a statement.