Rupert Murdoch’s Sky announced today that they are launching a new music service in the UK, that offers both streaming and downloads of tracks for a monthly subscription.
Downloads will be in mp3 format, compatible with any digital music player including iPods. According to the press release, “a range of subscription options will be available, offering different download packages tailored to customers’ needs”, suggesting that downloads will be limited per month depending on how much you pay, but streaming maybe unlimited.
Details were sketchy as to how the service will be accessed. With this coming from Sky I expect it will tie into its TV offerings, as well as via the web. Competing broadcasters/ISPs, Virgin Media and BT, both have Music on Demand services as part of their TV package, so it wouldn’t be a total shock if Sky was maneuvering itself to provide a similar service. Certainly offering free music downloads as part of a TV package would be an incentive that others appear to have not tried so far.
To date the only label on board is Universal, who get an equity stake in the new company in return. Universal is the home of artists such as U2, Kanye West, Amy Winehouse, Mika, the Killers, Snow Patrol, Luciano Pavarotti, ABBA, Rihanna, Eminem, Andrea Bocelli, Elton John and Duffy. Sky have confirmed that they are in talks with other labels, both major and independents, for future partnerships.
This is certainly an interesting direction for Sky to take. Maybe, along with movie downloads, Sky will eventually offer digital media packages instead of just TV packages. As the lines between traditional TV and music and the Internet blur, service providers like Sky and Virgin Media will have to offer more than a Pay TV subscription. As long as the pricing is competitive and the service good, consumers may well prefer to get their digital media fix from a single supplier.