Yet another music distribution service is in the works, this time from industry giant Virgin Media Incorporated. In cahoots with the world’s largest label, Universal Music Group, Virgin plans to unveil their DRM-free music subscription service in the UK prior to the coming holiday season. The company is presently holding discussions with other labels and publishers as well.
There is no officially recognized pricing but, sources familiar with the service are hinting at a charge of £10-£15 ($16.30-$24.50). Virgin Media claims its broadband network will be the world’s first subscription service to offer unlimited DRM-less music. The company’s network serves about four million residential consumers. Universal Music’s chairman, Lucian Grainge, sees this as “completely ground breaking” – don’t ask me how.
The company acknowledges that it faces an uphill battle. Its service will be up against two well-established competitors: iTunes, and the pirate community. Downloading music illegally is now, from my perspective, socially acceptable among most crowds and Apple doesn’t need me to tell you how large iTunes has become. Furthermore, parents buying music for their children’s MP3 player probably can’t justify a monthly fee, and someone who downloads vast quantities of music likely already steals it.