Cut in Vivendi download prices makes for shiny happy people

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Universal Music, the world's largest music company, has slashed the price it charges retailers to offer downloads of 1,500 back-catalogue albums as it ups the pace in the digital music market.

The albums on offer include famous records such as The Who's Quadrophenia, REM's Reckoning, Bob Marley and the Wailers' Rastaman Vibration as well as other classics from Stevie Wonder, The Cure, Buddy Holly, Abba and Thin Lizzy .

The albums are expected to sell in the UK for around £5.49 depending on the specific online retailer's rates. The albums on offer previously retailed for about £7.99. The price cuts will take effect from the first of November.

Universal is the first of the four major record companies to conduct a price cut of this magnitude across its catalogue. The price cut does not include singles or individual songs although some older albums by contemporary artists signed to Universal such as Nelly Furtado and the Mary J Blige will be included in the price cuts.

Music companies are keen to bolster their legitimate online digital sales as consumers increasingly use computers to source music that can be played on portable music players such as Apple's iPod.

Cutting the cost a consumer pays to download music legally means that a music fan is less likely to turn to fire sharing or illegal download sites to find new songs.

Companies such as Universal and EMI own vast amounts of music, some of which is no longer available through mainstream retail channels. The internet enables companies to reissue deleted albums in a cost- effective way.

Max Hole, executive vice-president of marketing and A&R at Universal Music, said: "The promise of the internet has always been about making it easier for people to access music in new ways and at affordable prices, and that's what we are aiming to achieve."