Sky to Challenge Market Leader iTunes

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In previous posts on The Shelf we have followed the plans of several companies who have recently entered the digital music download market, including 7digital, (7digital to offer DRM free music from Warner), and PlayDigital, (PlayDigital Offers DRM Free Downloads)

Sky is now the latest player to enter the digital download market, with plans to launch a subscription based music streaming and downloading service.

A Sky representative said of the plans to launch the service that it is “Providing a simple new way for fans to consume music, both streamed tracks and downloads to keep are available through just one monthly subscription, a world first.”

It is expected that a range of subscription options will be available to customers that offer differing download packages which can be tailored to the individual needs of users.

With contracts already signed to offer the complete back catalogue of Universal Music users are sure to get access to some of the biggest names in the music industry, and with negotiations ongoing with major and independent record labels, Sky’s catalogue of digital music offering is likely to expand significantly.

Currently Apple’s iTunes dominates the music download industry in the US and UK and Universal has long been unhappy with the company’s reluctance to offer a subscription based service, instead opting to sell tracks individually.

The digital download market it one of the few areas of growth in the music industry and Universal also believe Apple’s dominance is strangling its development.

Recently Universal, the world’s biggest record label, has stopped providing Apple with exclusive annual rights to sell its catalogue and is instead looking to retain greater flexibility as to where it can sell its tracks.

The new service from Sky will be launched independent of Sky, with the satellite provider acting as majority stake holder providing “expertise in the delivery of subscription services… content aggregation, packaging and marketing”

As yet the plans are unclear as to what format music tracks will be available in and whether there will be any form of digital rights management, but the tracks will be playable “on any mp3-compatible fixed or portable device”. Some reposrts have gone as far to say that it will be offering a DRM free format

Both services from 7igtal and PlayDigital are offering DRM free music to customers.

As yet the name and date of launch is undecided, however it is thought to go live at the end of the year.

Universal said of the deal that – “The new Sky service will provide a compelling digital music experience, built for the ever growing digital appetite of music fans. In a world where a majority of UK homes have high speed broadband access, consumers will welcome a safe, state-of-the-art service and legal alternative to those services which exploit musicians without compensation.”


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