In an effort to reduce online music piracy, British Internet provider Virgin will work with Universal Music to offer a new unlimited music download service.
When a user downloads an MP3 track through the service, it can then legally be used on an any MP3 player.
Virgin is expected to work with other record labels, with announcements expected throughout the rest of the year. In agreement to participate in the service, Virgin also has vowed to better control music piracy of its subscribers.
The joint Virgin-Universal service is expected to launch before Christmas. Pricing for the service wasn’t released, but it should be comparable to a few music albums per month — between 10 GBP and 20GBP per month, according to sources.
Music labels are prepared to increase pressure on Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to help crack down on music piracy by their users. A recent survey indicates most Internet subscribers will ignore letters and must have their service cut before they learn a lesson.
In my opinion I believe if Universal and Virgin want subscribers to use this service instead of pirating music, I don’t think charging the same cost of a couple music albums per month will be enough. eMusic and other services offer a wider variety of music from multiple record labels, and may end up being cheaper than the Universal-Virgin service.
(I understand Universal is the largest music publisher in the world, with artists such as U2, Elton John, Pussycat Dolls and Amy Winehouse.)