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Broadcasting giant Sky has announced it will be taking on Apple’s iTunes digital music service with a new product called Sky Songs, out next week. The project has all four major labels on board – EMI, Sony Music Entertainment, Universal and Warner Music – along with a number of independents. It follows an announcement last week by Virgin Media that it too would launch a music service.

Unlike iTunes, where consumers can cherrypick the tracks they desire and pay for them individually (a micro-payments model), Sky Songs will use a subscription method, where people pay for access to a library of what claims to be more than four million songs. They can both download and stream tracks.

So will it succeed? Mike Darcey, Sky’s chief operating officer, says that the new service “will reach out to consumers who want legitimate digital services offering choice, ease of use and great value. Offering legal access to digital music is a vital step in combating illegal downloading.”

Yes, well, obviously anything rewarding artists for their work and cutting down on piracy is great. But music subscription services do not always prove popular with consumers as they tie people into contracts for set lengths. Consumers also worry about losing their library of music when they stop subscribing.

The real chance this service has of succeeding and really rivalling Apple where others have failed is in the sheer power of the Sky brand in promoting it and cross-marketing it with its other products. Spotify has already proved that music streaming online can garner consumer interest online and through mobiles and Sky can take the service onto its set-top boxes too.

Although competitors like Spotify and We7 are more established in this market, it appears that Sky and Virgin Media are keen to make a big noise by getting involved in music. Do you think they can succeed?


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4 Comments

  1. Some how the skeptic in me asks why every media or communications company are entering into brief foray of music download services. SKY and Virgin Media should release it in set top boxes, which makes a lot of sense for them as they already have a working platform and the technical expertise also considering it hasn’t yet been experimented. Its not like consumers do not have a choice for streaming and downloading services. We only have Spotify, WE7, 7Digital, I-tunes, Amazon MP3, Napster, E-Music, I-Mesh, Yahoo Music, AOL, please feel free to add more if i have missed any. Having countless choices to download music legally won’t curb illegal downloading, I believe, it will only take much more than that to cut piracy.

  2. again this is another super company looking to end the dominance of Itunes who has a great biz model that works that delievers on the consumer experience etc..
    sky assumes that they can obtain market share but do they really understand the music market?…but the complexity of what they assume is blinkered by them further assuming the sky brand will conquer all…it wont..remember gazillionare Bill Gates who threw a billion dollars at ZUNE…
    media companies should stick with what they know best which is movies, sports & the discovery channel…trust me in 12 months when sky has zero traction to justify what this is costing….we know the rest happens all the time…
    the digital market for itunes is gone cos they own it, hence what difference does it make for them to allow the spotify app…history has already shown us that when a market is gone either affiliate with the monopoly itunes has or create a new market of your own ..i am fed up of niche companies & super corporate media brands assuming the music biz is easy or Spotify like subscription services to mobile/PC is the next gold rush. Good lord… that space is so crowded now i bet you that little spotify will prevail over Sky…any takers

  3. I agree, Denver. Its just ridiculous. Only if these media and technology companies were wise enough to invest this money in something better rather than just be a part of the music service rat race. Only if they could may be invest in better employment opportunities in these tough times, on one side they fire people to cut costs and then on the other side invest in business models which are completely unnecessary. I am victim of the recent job cuts, might sound a bit biased but its really disgraceful. Or even better they could have invested in promoting new up coming artists and contribute to the music business.
    I use Spotify (to stream), Last.FM (to discover new music) and Itunes (to download) and I have used other services as well just to see how different they were, sorry to say they were just useless. The reason I am stuck with the first three is because they have something unique to offer which keeps my interest and I have no plans of changing my consumer behaviour unless something as unique and new comes in the market.

  4. I can’t believe I’m reading people complaining that a major brand is promoting the subscription model. I’m sure Sky have done their homework. Without having read their brochure, I’d say they are going for the millions of people that are less savvy about downloading and would prefer not to brandish a credit card on the web anyway, the type of people that will buy Susan Boyle’s album by the bucketful. What’s wrong with that?

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