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?