Print 4 comment(s) - last by rs1.. on Jun 15 at 5:57 PM

Virgin service lets users stream and keep all the music they want

Universal Music chairman and CEO Lucian Grainge said, "We see this as completely ground breaking. We've listened to our customers, our fans and our artists and we think that this is an opportunity to bring music to a wider audience."

Reuters reports that Virgin Media and Universal Music have announced a new music service that will offer Virgin Media Broadband customers the ability to stream and download to keep as many digital tracks as they won't each month for a set monthly fee.

People familiar with the service said it would cost in the $16 to $24 per month range. The music industry and the ISP both describe the service as a world's first. The tracks will be in MP3 format and use no DRM allowing them to be played on most music devices available including the iPhone and iPod.

Virgin Media will also be introducing new methods to its network to help reduce piracy. The plan by the ISP to reduce piracy will include educating users and as a last resort suspending access to those who pirate music and other media. Virgin Media does say that no user would be permanently disconnected from service.

Analyst Mark Mulligan said, "This really is high stakes, if this can't work then what will."

Music trade body IFPI welcomed the deal and said, "This is the kind of partnership between a music company and an Internet service provider that is going to shape the future for the music business internationally. It also marks new ground in ISPs' willingness to take steps to protect copyrighted content on their networks, and that sets a very encouraging example to the whole industry."

Some analysts say that for the offering to be successful Virgin will need to sign up other major record labels. Virgin says that by the time the service launches it will be able to offer a complete catalog.

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How it should have been all along
By rs1 on 6/15/2009 5:57:38 PM , Rating: 2
This is exactly how it should have been done from the beginning. Forcing users to pay per-song is ridiculous, and imposing artificial limits on how many songs a user can download at once, how long they can keep them, or how many times that can listen to/copy them is doubly so, and doomed to failure besides.

A flat monthly fee for unlimited access to and use of music (or movies, or any other form of IP) makes sense for several reasons:

1. It plays into the Internet's inherent ability to make an infinite number of perfect copies of something at nearly zero cost, instead of trying to fight against it.

2. It lets users use the content that they purchase as if they own it, which is the way things used to work in the days before digital distribution, and how things should continue to work in the future.

3. It ensures that artists can still be compensated for the content they generate.

4. It's completely intuitive for the end user. There are no limits to worry about, or weird restrictions on how you can use your music. Just browse around for stuff you like, download it, and enjoy.

It's such a simple and straightforward approach that I don't know why it's taken us this long to get there. Someone spent too much time listening to the people who thought there was money to be made in DRM, I think.

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