BTopenworld – download beats, beat up on gamers
BTopenworld will take its next charge at the holy grail of profitable online content in January with music and gaming subscription offers.
First out of the gates is a classical music service, in partnership with music provider Classical.com. Users can listen online to a catalogue of 5,000 tracks, search through its Amazon-like 'if you like this, check this out too' referral engine and then download ten tracks of their choice every month (which can be burned off onto CD and kept).
Subscription is £7.99 per month, which will be whipped off your credit card on a monthly basis, although the company is working a direct debit payment option. Selected users get to kick its tyres during December prior to general availability in January.
Additional features a library of 48,000 classical CDs for sale; a customised CD ordering service (if you can't download and burn it yourself); a composer reference section, and so on.
The second channel available for hire is a gaming service, provided via the Games Domain site, which BTopenworld snapped up last month. This gives you multi-player and peer-to-peer gaming, as well as some specialist content.
AlienPants, a gaming community management team, will support subscribers, hold hands 24x7, organise leagues and do other good things, while Electronics Boutique has been contracted to deal with back-end issues.
Selling for £9.99 a month, it will be freely available for testing during December, with billable access from January. Of course, this has some issues, especially as a large percentage of the target demographic are still dealing with puberty and haven't organised their first credit cards as yet.
Although broadband users will enjoy it more, both channels support narrowband as well.
A general music channel, similar to the classical service, is currently being tested. BTopenworld has partnered with digital distribution supplier OD2 (much like competitor Tiscali announced last week) for this and will license content from Warner, BMG, V2 and more to put together a decent selection of tunes.
A deal with Microsoft means the site has a customised WMP7 to deal with the WMA format used (and digital rights management issues). A launch date for the site has not been specified.
The world music market is worth around $40 billion a year, and digital downloads could account for six per cent of the total in the next three to five years.
However, in August, research group Gartner cast doubt over whether punters were actually prepared to pay for online music. It found that only half of those surveyed used their PCs to listen to CDs and only a quarter listened to music that had been downloaded from the Net. Whether this group is prepared to part with their cash remains to be seen. ®