HP announces MusicStation service for Europe

Hewlett-Packard publicly unveiled details of a new digital music service today that has been created alongside Omnifone for users in 10 different European nations.

The MusicStation Desktop will debut in the U.K., France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Austria, The Netherlands, Switzerland and Sweden

It will be available with a 14-day free trial, with monthly subscriptions available for 10 euros ($14.10 USD) in most nations.  U.K. access to the HP service will cost 9 pounds ($14.50 USD) per month.

Songs will be available from all four major record labels, with 6.5 million tracks initially promised.  Songs  are available in WMA format only — including DRM that kills the song if service is canceled — and includes the ability to save 10 songs per month.

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“With its huge scale and user base, HP’s 10-country introduction … will help encourage legitimate access to digital music content,” said Rob Wells, Universal Music online music chief, in a press statement.

HP has a similar music distribution service in the United States, but instead partnered with Rhapsody from RealNetworks.  Independently confirmed details on how well the service is doing among U.S. consumers wasn’t immediately available.

As music copyright groups continue to blame piracy for the drop in CD sales, subscription services similar to this one have led to higher amounts of legal digital downloading.  The Apple iTunes service, which uses a pay-per-song strategy, currently controls the market.

I like the new interest in online music from HP and other tech companies looking to perk up their cloud-based offerings.  Since file sharers are more likely to purchase music than other users who don’t pirate music, this could be another step in the right direction of limiting peer-to-peer piracy.