Are USB Flash Drives the New CD?

Reuters reports that USB flash drives are becoming a new distribution medium for the record industry.

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The article lists the latest Mars Volta album, “The Bedlam in Goliath,” which Universal released in January, as a recent example:

“Instead of a CD or digital version of the Universal album, fans could buy a $30 USB drive designed like a Ouija board planchette. The device comes with a DRM-free version of the album and the promise of more bonus materials in coming months. Users simply plug it into their computer’s USB drive and then listen to the album or download it into their music library.”

The report said that other artists such as Jennifer Lopez and Ringo Starr have done similar releases on thumb drives. In the case of Mars Volta, the $30 also gets you more freebies down the line. Those who buy the Mars Volta USB stick get “a new extra on the 29th of each month, ranging from bonus tracks to wallpaper.”

It looks to be an interest idea for rabid fans of a particular act, if not the mainstream buying public in general.