Feeds

Universal tests Napster-style music service

Subscription-based streaming audio service could win the day

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

'Big five' recording company Universal Music Group has begun secret trials of an unlimited access, subscription-based digital music distribution service.

Universal itself won't discuss the trial, but its parent company, Seagram, and the drinks giant's prospective merger partner, Vivendi, have mentioned it during talks with analysts and shareholders, Reuters reports.

The trial apparently provides unlimited access to some 20,000 tracks via a streamed media connection over the Internet. Subscribers, of whom, Reuters reckons there are 5000 - seems a lot to us - can't download and keep the songs they choose to listen to.

Subscription-based services have been touted as an workable alternative to the pay-per-download digital music distribution systems the major labels have been focusing their efforts upon. The arrival of Napster, with its 'all you can eat' approach to downloads, is believed by many observers to have pretty much whacked the original model on the head - punters are now so used to unlimited access, they will no longer put up with a 'single fee, single download' model.

That's certainly one possible motivation behind Universal's trial. The other is the development of Net-based audio-on-demand services of the kind Japanese giant Sony is looking to when it rolls out broadband digital entertainment services next year.

Just as the video market has split between those who want to buy tapes - and now DVDs - to keep and those who simply want to rent movies occasionally, the audio market has traditionally been a sell-through only business. The ability to stream audio provides a way of building a music rental operation without the usual piracy concerns. There are plenty of folk out there who might want to hear, say, the new Radiohead album, but don't want to buy the CD outright in case they find it a mite too depressing. ®

Related Stories

Universal to launch digital music trial
Universal to bring digital music service to UK

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Bladerunner sequel might actually be good. Harrison Ford is in it
Go ahead, you're all clear, kid... Sorry, wrong film
Musicians sue UK.gov over 'zero pay' copyright fix
Everyone else in Europe compensates us - why can't you?
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Euro Parliament VOTES to BREAK UP GOOGLE. Er, OK then
It CANNA do it, captain.They DON'T have the POWER!
Megaupload overlord Kim Dotcom: The US HAS RADICALISED ME!
Now my lawyers have bailed 'cos I'm 'OFFICIALLY' BROKE
Forget Hillary, HP's ex CARLY FIORINA 'wants to be next US Prez'
Former CEO has political ambitions again, according to Washington DC sources
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.