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HMV has become the UK's first music retailer to offer punters subscription-free Internet access. "This is a massive step in HMV's Internet strategy," said Stuart Rowe, general manager of HMV Direct and E-Commerce. "By teaming up with Yahoo! we have become the first music aligned ISP in the UK, which means that customers using this site will have immediate access to the kind of news, offers and information they specifically require." This isn't quite true since rock megastar David Bowie launched a subscription-based service at the end of last year although that was tailored specifically tailored for fans of Ziggy Stardust and all his alter egos. But Rowe is right when he says that this will have a broad appeal to music fans in the UK giving them a portal aimed directly at them and their wallets. HMV's strategy is in sharp contrast to high street rival Virgin Megastore which has yet to launch an e-commerce site to sell music CDs and games. Surprisingly, despite Virgin Net recently announcing it was to scrap its subscription-based service in favour of a free model there appears little co-ordination between the different Virgin brands. A spokeswoman for Virgin Megastore suggested there was little need for Megastore to follow HMV's lead since another part of the group already provided Net access. She did confirm that Virgin Megastore would create an e-commerce store later this year but couldn't reveal exactly when this would happen. ®

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