Borders Group has acquired a stake in Echo, the joint venture of six music retailers that was formed in January. Based in Los Angeles, Echo aims to work with music recording companies to build a platform for digital delivery of music to consumers both online, as audible.com does for spoken-word titles, and in-store.
Borders is now an equal partner with Hastings Entertainment, Tower Records, Best Buy (which includes Musicland and Sam Goody), Virgin Entertainment, Trans World Entertainment and Wherehouse Music. Echo is an outgrowth of Echo Networks, which operates a streaming music service on the Internet.
Echo hopes to counteract declining sales of the traditional music CD, due in large part to consumers' ability to trade music files and burn their own CDs for free. Using a CD starter kit, customers will be able to download music to their computers on a subscription or pay-as-you-go basis. Echo is hoping to begin providing products by summer.