French music retailer FNAC tomorrow (Sept. 18) will launch its online platform Fnacmusic.

French music retailer FNAC tomorrow (Sept. 18) will launch its online platform Fnacmusic.

The service will offer 300,000 tracks from indies and majors at launch. This figure will rise to 600,000 by year's end "if certain agreements are respected," says Fnac's international and development director, Christophe Cuvillier. "In the near future, we aim to have 1 million titles available."

Most songs will sell for €0.99 ($1.20); albums will be €9.99 ($12). Songs exclusive to Fnacmusic will cost €1.19 ($1.45).

The service is launching three months behind schedule. FNAC's management says the delay was due to unsuccessful negotiations with labels over interoperability among various systems and technologies. Until further notice, Fnacmusic will sell only tracks encoded in Microsoft's WMA format.

FNAC's platform will not be compatible with the leading portable digital player, Apple Computer's iPod. Cuvillier says that unlike the indies, the majors would not accept what he calls a "normal" level of digital rights management protection that would have made the downloads iPod-compatible.

Some labels had objected to FNAC’s plans, saying the retailer wanted to effectively strip DRM to a level that would not ensure sufficient protection.