Sony Music Entertainment, home to such stars as Mariah Carey and Bob Dylan, will unveil plans Monday to start offering digital music downloads of its music at the end of this month, a company spokesman said.
The announcement Friday by the unit of Japan's Sony Corp. follows on the heels of one made Thursday by BMG Entertainment. That company, a subsidiary of Germany's Bertelsmann, said it had formed an alliance with Liquid Audio Inc. to sell digital music downloads from BMG's catalog ranging from Santana to Backstreet Boys starting this summer.
Record labels have until recently balked at releasing songs on the Internet amid fears of online piracy and alienating the retail stores that sell their products.
But the race to move online has heated up since Time Warner Inc.'s deal in January to merge with Internet giant America Online Inc. and fellow record company EMI Group. Seagram Co.'s Universal Music Group said in early March it would start selling music online by June.
Most fans downloading music are using MP3 files, a compression format used to convert music on CDs into computer files.
Record labels have strongly opposed MP3, because it enables distribution of music without any copyright protection or collection of royalties.
The record labels plan to use secure downloading systems that will protect them from piracy.
Time Warner's Warner Music Group has said it will start digital downloading the second half of this year. EMI Group was not immediately available for comment.