An old Stone shows faith in MP3

He may be an oldie now, but Bill Wyman is strutting his stuff once again... only this time using MP3

Bill Wyman, aged bass player of the Rolling Stones, will release his latest album on a dedicated personalised MP3 player next month. The player, developed by MP UK Ltd, features encryption software to prevent illegal copying and is a first for the digital music format.

Although Wyman's effort has grabbed the headlines, only four tracks are available on the device which is confusingly labelled 'PDA'. Tracks are split onto two 8MB memory cards.

The music is stored on a swappable memory card -- Multi Media Card -- Grenville Lee, CEO MP3 UK, said that the company choose to support MMC memory cards, manufactured by Siemens and Sandisk, rather than the more common SmartMedia cards as "we believe that they have a clear roadmap as to where removable memory cards are headed, with 64MB cards due at the end of the year."

Lee, who said that the company is "trying to break MP3 wide open," told ZDNet News that he is working "with several other major artists" to promote their music in the same way. The company has also completed a deal with Ivory Shell to offer audio versions of its children's books.

The move towards MP3 seems unstoppable: Drum and Base band Sneaker Pimps released a new single on Diamond's Rio player as a promotional exercise. Several major artists have released tracks for download via the Web including David Bowie who last week released the 'hours' album for download weeks before it hits the shops.

MP UK's matchbox sized player, provisionally called the Personal Digital Assistant (PDA), will sell for £49.99 from the company's Web site. It uses one-time encryption to prevent copyright infringement.

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