British Music Firms To Snack On Apple

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New digital music subscription services in the UK from Virgin and HMV support Windows DRM and aim to displace iTunes.

Five months ago, UK music charts began tracking downloads of songs and including them in the weekly results. Now according to a BBC report, two big-time music stores will launch digital subscription services and offer sales of downloaded music.

HMV Digital will make its service available on Friday, while Virgin will launch its offering on Monday. Both utilize Windows DRM for copy protection of songs; Apple does not license its Fairplay technology, a source of consternation for many music publishers.

Unlike iTunes, which only sells songs and albums, the two new services will also sell monthly subscriptions. As long as the subscriptions are in force, users can keep the songs they download from month to month. Once the subscription ends, the songs become unplayable.

Virgin customers will also have an option to buy a cheaper monthly subscription that only plays songs on a PC. Music can’t be placed on a portable media player unless it is purchased outright.

Not being available for the iPod doesn’t seem to faze HMV, even though a lot of competitors have tried and failed to make inroads in the online music market with a Windows flavor. “How many customers know that in buying an iPod, they’re effectively locking oneself into a walled garden?” said John Taylor, HMV’s director of e-commerce, in an AP story. HMV has partnered with Microsoft on the digital venture.

It’s a very nice garden, though, and Apple has profited well from the symbiotic iPod/iTunes relationship. Both services hope to grow beyond what Apple has accomplished, and plan to charge the same monthly price of 14.99 per month for subscriptions.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.

British Music Firms To Snack On Apple
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