Australian digital rights management company Destra Corporation has signed leading music retailer Leading Edge to provide downloads through its Web site.

Australian digital rights management company Destra Corporation has signed leading music retailer Leading Edge to provide downloads through its Web site.

Sydney-based Leading Edge has more than 200 outlets nationwide and claims a share of over 12% of the country's music retail market.

"We want to maintain our market share in the rapidly growing online music market. It represents an ever-increasing percentage of all music sold in this country," comments Gavin Ward, CEO of Leading Edge. "Destra has the technology and expertise to help us maintain our lead."

Destra launched its legal download subsidiary destramusic.com last December. The Melbourne-based company already sells tracks through the online divisions of leading music chains Sanity Entertainment and HMV Australia, music e-tailer ChaosMusic and budget CD/electronics chain JB Hi-Fi.

More than 200,000 tracks are available through the service. Plans are to increase that to 500,000 by mid-year.

Destra also reports that its promotion of providing downloads for A$0.89 ($0.61) per track through April helped realise a 565% sales increase from March. Its competitors Telstra and MSN countered by offering downloads at $0.99 ($0.68).

The Australian Music Retailers Assn. (AMRA) promptly criticised the online price war. "Retailers will have to choose between competing and losing money, or closing their online stores," commented AMRA chairman Geoff Bonouvrie.

As of May 1, Destra's prices reverted to the usual A$1.99 ($1.38) per track.