Sony BMG Music Entertainment will roll out its Platinum MusicPass series of digital album cards beginning Jan. 15 at Best Buy, Target and Fred's, with Trans World and Winn-Dixie coming to the party by the end of January.

In Canada, participating retailers include Best Buy, CD Plus, Shoppers Drug Mart, and Wal-Mart with HMV coming on board sometime during the first quarter.

As reported previously, the move marks the company's first commercial foray into MP3s in the U.S., a strategy that until recently it resisted in favor of selling files with digital rights management capabilities.

The digital album gift cards, which retail for $12.99, will be artist-specific and feature album artwork, and will come with bonus material. The card will contain a scratch-off that will reveal a PIN number that can be redeemed for a download at MusicPass.com.

"We see MusicPass as a great way to bring digital music to the physical retail space," said Sony BMG Music Entertainment global digital business & U.S. sales president Thomas Hesse in a statement. "We believe it will have strong appeal for a broad range of consumers, and that it will ultimately expand both the digital and physical markets for music."

Among the titles receiving this treatment are the Backstreet Boys' "Unbreakable"; Brad Paisley's "5th Gear;" Bruce Springsteen's "Magic"; Celine Dion’s "Taking Chances"; John Mayer’s "Continuum"; Three Days Grace's "One-X"; and Tony Bennett's "Duets." Compilations include "70's Pop Hits"; "Sensational 60's"; "Country Gold"; and "Everlasting Love."

In addition, as part of the launch, two titles--Kenny Chesney's "Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates" and Celine Dion's "Taking Chances"--will also come with expanded offerings that retail for $19.99. In addition to those complete albums, the expanded MusicPass offering on those titles will include bonus material and the choice of one additional album from that same artist's catalog.

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