Feeds

Virgin launches digital music service

'Me too' offering, but leads on price

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Boost IT visibility and business value

Virgin's digital music service, Virgin Digital (VD), opened its virtual doors today, offering US consumers a Napster-style mix of a la carte downloads and an 'all you can eat' monthly subscription package.

VD's initial offering is a beta preview release, presumably because it's based on Microsoft's still-in-beta Windows Media 10, as is Napster's 'Napster to Go' service, which is similarly still in the beta phase.

Like Napster - and contrary to Apple's public thinking, and Microsoft's for that matter - Virgin clearly believes tethered subscriptions are the future of digital music, essentially allowing punters to download as many songs as they like for a regular, monthly fee. VD's pitch is price: $7.99 a month to Napster's $9.99. There are the usual array of online radio stations bundled.

It's not clear from Virgin's press statement whether VD will provide transfers to portable players for that price, or whether the subscription includes CD burning rights. Napster charges extra for both facilities: $14.99 for Napster to Go, and 99c a track for burning. Certainly, from the announcement's wording, burning only appears to be bundled with the a la carte service.

VD's other lead over Napster is its catalogue: one million songs, a target Apple's iTunes Music Store exceeded in the US last month.

VD will initially target the US, and while it has announced European expansion plans, it will still not say when that will take place.

Wherever it launches, Virgin's real strength is its brand. VD may appear too much if a 'me too' service for now, but with in-store promotion and the service's well-known name, it's in a position to make a strong entry into the market. "Virgin Digital will work collaboratively with other Virgin Group companies on cross-marketing and promotions in an effort to mutually extend the breadth, depth and knowledge of music available to customers," the company said.

There's the vexed question of whether consumers will prefer pay-per-download offerings or subscriptions, but since VD offers both, it's not likely to be hindered by a shift in one direction or another. ®

Related stories

Napster unveils portable music service
How the music biz can live forever, get even richer, and be loved
9 out of 10 cats prefer CDs to downloads
OFT urged to investigate 'rip-off' iTunes
easyMusic picks Wippit for pre-Xmas launch
The Darkness opens digital song service
Yahoo! snaps up Musicmatch
Microsoft tells music biz to 'back lock-down CD standard'
iTunes Japan hits 'inadequate DRM' hurdle
Apple taunts Napster, Real with iTunes affiliate program
Real halves music prices, widens loss
Apple iTunes catalogue tops 1m songs

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
Amazon says Hachette should lower ebook prices, pay authors more
Oh yeah ... and a 30% cut for Amazon to seal the deal
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
Chips are down at Broadcom: Thousands of workers laid off
Cellphone baseband device biz shuttered
Feel free to BONK on the TUBE, says Transport for London
Plus: Almost NOBODY uses pay-by-bonk on buses - Visa
Twitch rich as Google flicks $1bn hitch switch, claims snitch
Gameplay streaming biz and search king refuse to deny fresh gobble rumors
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.