Virgin Media developing unlimited DRM-less music service

By on June 15, 2009, 3:35 PM
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.

User Comments: 10

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Phantasm66 Phantasm66 said:

Actually I think this is potentially a real step forward in this whole sorry mess, but I think the charge of £10-£15 is a little steep.

yukka, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I would pay a set fee for unlimited music but I would ask is there a contract? How can they possibly make money if someone subscribes, downloads all the albums they want then unsubscribes?

Gotta be a catch.. mzybe not,, from the article..


"You can't have a subscription model where somebody on a monthly model of say $10, go on in January, download 6m tracks, and leave in February," IFPI chief executive John Kennedy told us.

The Virgin deal suggests that this reluctance has now been overcome: apart from a tiny handful of obsessive hoarders, most people want to get music when they want, not hoard it in case of some future shortage.


Sorry, I dont see myself as hardcore but I would make a list and download all I wanted straight away. Time would tell whether I would stay with it but with my favorite bands releasing nought but greatest hits albums, its not 100% likely.

Phantasm66 Phantasm66 said:

Mind you yukka even then they are getting SOME money from you, which for them is probably a start.

yukka, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Staring at a huge CD collection here which is ripped onto my PC but yeah i get your point.

bavon said:

So breaking the law is 'socially acceptable'? Hmmmmm, I wonder how you would feel if someone told you that burglary was OK?

I don't sympathise with the media industries because they could have come up with a suitable solution to downloading had they been willing but it still doesn't excuse transgression by the rest of us. A healthy music and film industry relies on money to support the less popular acts, releases and experimental genres.

I was a teenager before PCs, MP3s, even cassette recording yet we survived without needing to download! (Someone help me here I'm getting ahead of myself.....!)

Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

@bavon: I am not supporting nor justifying the act of digital piracy (nor "burglary" for that matter), I am simply saying that most people seem to partake in it and discuss it nonchalantly. On a personal level, I do not know a single person who legitimately pays for all of their music. These people are spread across a vast spectrum of ages and walks of life.

So yes, the piracy of music has - (again) from my perspective - become socially acceptable. I have not recently seen anyone demonized for downloading music. Your outlook may, and probably will, vary.

Guest said:

Well Matthew, now you have met someone that "does" pay for all of their music (and software). Benefitting from somebody else's livelihood without thought for an artists/developers due recompense is parasitic. Such an act may seem socially acceptable due to the ubiquity of the internet and its ability to accommodate the inordinate desire for riskless acquisition, but this is a very poor justification. If I can't just take apple's from my corner grocery store and then hand them out to my friends afterward, then I should be consistent and not take the produce of another industry and disseminate that either.

hellokitty[hk] hellokitty[hk], I'm a TechSpot Evangelist, said:

Matthew said:

On a personal level, I do not know a single person who legitimately pays for all of their music.

Is that a confession, after all, you know yourself??

Anyway, the article does make it sound a bit like almost everyone pirates music, something I actually do believe. I saw a survey done at a high school, everyone interviewed said they did, but some of them were obviously. Nevertheless, those jokers probably pirate anyway as does most of the school in some way.

Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

Well "Guest," given your lack of identity and tangibility I cannot say I know you. To clarify, I don't know a single person who has never downloaded music. And by "know" I mean that I can tell you their middle name, where they live and I can call them up to grab lunch. I am not justifying theft or anything of the sort. I am saying that digital piracy has become so common people are numb to the fact that it *is* stealing.

@hellokitty[hk]: At the ripe old age of 21 (*cough*), I grew up with Napster, Morpheus, Kazaa and so on. I have indeed downloaded music - there's no reason to confess, because I'm not hiding anything. That isn't to say that I've never paid for a CD either.

yukka, TechSpot Paladin, said:

dont forget audiogalaxy..

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