Virgin, Universal team for iTunes attack

virgin-media-logoYet more activity in the all-you-can-eat music subscription space, with Universal teaming up with Virgin Media to promise a music download subscription service for broadband users.

Touted as the “world’s first unlimited music download subscription service”. Virgin Media’s broadband customers will be able to stream and download as many songs and albums as they like from Universal’s artists. These songs will play back on any iPod, MP3 player, mobile phone or computer. The music can then be kept forever.

An “entry level” offer will also be available for customers who download music regularly, but may not want an unlimited service.

The service is intended to launch later this year. Virgin Media is negotiating with other UK major and independent music labels and publishers to ensure it can offer a complete, compelling catalogue by the time it launches.

The new service is described as part of an overall effort to reduce music piracy. “This will involve implementing a range of different strategies to educate file sharers about online piracy and to raise awareness of legal alternatives,” the partners say.

“They include, as a last resort for persistent offenders, a temporary suspension of internet access. No customers will be permanently disconnected and the process will not depend on network monitoring or interception of customer traffic by Virgin Media.”

Commenting on the new service, Virgin Media’s CEO, Neil Berkett, said: “In terms of both convenience and value, our new music service will be superior to anything that’s available online today and provides a fair deal for both consumers and artists. There is no better example of Virgin Media’s commitment to harnessing digital technology to give customers what they want, when they want and how they want.”

Lucian Grainge, Chairman and Chief Executive of Universal Music Group International, said: “Britain has a world-class reputation for artists and music.  Now British consumers will have access to a world-class digital music service.  I believe this puts all of us at the forefront of a new era.”

Stephen Carter, Minister for Communications, Technology and Broadcasting added, “Government has a role in creating the right legal and regulatory framework for rights and copyright.  However, the market will flourish through innovative commercial agreements between companies, and agreements such as this will help significantly in reducing any demand for piracy.”

Richard Branson, Chairman of Virgin Group said, “I’m thrilled to see Virgin back where it belongs at the heart of music and, once again, breaking the mould. Virgin Media’s agreement with Universal is a world first and lays the ground for a truly unique service when it launches later this year.  It will give music fans all the MP3s they want for a small monthly fee whilst supporting the artists whose creativity is the lifeblood of music.”

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5 thoughts on “Virgin, Universal team for iTunes attack

  1. Jack

    Let’s just hope they’ve got a system in place to stop people subscribing for a month, downloading all the music they can, then unsubscribing…

  2. Peter

    “Let’s just hope they’ve got a system in place to stop people subscribing for a month, downloading all the music they can, then unsubscribing…”

    First, it looks like it’s being run via the ISPs, so you’d have to find another ISP after one month. Second, I’d imagine it’s one of those cases where you can’t go “month-to-month”–you’d have to sign up for two years or something like that. So you get download as much as you want from Universal music, but you have to pay, say, $350 to do it.

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