Hands holds EMI iTunes killer plan?

EMI plans to enter the increasingly crowded online music and video sales market with its own download service, to be made available through its existing portal, EMI.com.

The company already has some experience in this – it has been offering its Share service to music journalists for some while in order to securely distribute pre-release music to them for review.

There’s a strong likelihood the site will offer music streaming, as it is being described as a “learning lab” for people to discover new music. The company is increasingly forging its own digital destiny in online music – it’s no suprise last year’s biggest digital story comes from former EMI act, Radiohead, for example.

Industry analysts will question if the company’s new venture will have any more success than similar preceeding attempts, though again it is also worth noting that EMI Music’s senior vice president of digital strategy, Second Life co-founder, Cory Ondrejka, seems to really ‘get’ the digital wave. (Though he hasn’t yet responded to our email request for a chat some day :-(…)

The new service will be focused on music discovery, reflecting Guy Hand’s own opinion that the industry needs a digital shake-up. The Financial Times observes his previous accusations that the existing major label set-up is flabby, bureaucratic and refusing to face the challenges of the internet. His vision embraces the creation of online communities, so we predict able attempts at fostering niche music appreciation, not just pop acts,

Key to the success of the service could rest in whether EMI is able to also offer music from other labels through its portal, or whether it will secure links with other services which could fill this gap.

However, certain recent activity such as the launch of Universal’s Lost Tunes service suggest labels may move once again to a separatist position, once they’ve ground down iTunes marketshare and taken ample fees for distribution rights from other new contenders, such as Nokia’s Comes With Music or MySpace Music.

We’ll wait and see how this game eventually plays out. EMI’s portal’s set to launch before Christmas.

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