Virgin pushes subscription music over selling tracks online

VirginDigital.com launches today, selling music online, and becomes the first major music retailer to enter the download market, “which has been dominated by Apple Computer and other technology companies. Service will begin in the United States. Virgin plans to introduce similar service in other countries starting with Britain, but the timing has not yet been set,” Saul Hansell reports for The New York Times.

“What is interesting is that Virgin is putting its biggest emphasis on its subscription service, rather than on selling songs one at a time for 99 cents a track as Apple and Microsoft do,” Hansell reports. “It is betting that new customers will instead join its Virgin Music Club for a $7.99 monthly fee to listen to an unlimited amount of music from Virgin’s one-million-track library on their computers. A premium subscription service that will allow those tracks to be moved to a portable music player, for a slightly higher monthly fee, will be offered soon.”

Hansell reports, “The difficulty of explaining subscription plans to consumers is exactly why Apple chose the path it did. ‘Consumers have been buying music for 50 years,’ said Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice president in charge of its iTunes online music store. ‘They want to replicate that experience online.’ Cue said that Apple might consider a subscription service in the future but that it had no plans to do so now. ‘Customers are speaking loudly with their wallets,’ he said.”

Full article here.

17 Comments

  1. “…..Consumers have been buying music for 50 years,’ said Eddy Cue,..”

    uhhhh … consumers have been buying music for a lot more than 50 years….

    Before the advent of the “Victrola” which played the first laquer-platters (records), there was also a market for the “scrolls” which worked in the player pianos…

    Both forms of music have been around for more than 50 years

  2. As a consumer I am very suspicious of subscription services that at the end of the day leaves me with nothing but a receipt. Especially as an American “…the pursuit of life, liberty, and property…”

  3. My Windoze friends spend so much time just managing the virus/spyware programs they can’t even think about music on the computer. I’m having a hard time getting most to download iTunes and to rip their CD collections. The last thing my friends will do is spend $8-$15/month for a subscription.

  4. iSteve…i had gotten VPC and Winxp off friends.. it was running perfectly… er..

    Until the automatic shut down thing started happening…

    Your Windows friends endure a hell you can scarcely imagine. I deleted the whole thing, reminding myself… the only thing i used Windows for was an online poker tourney that my friends were in..

    pokerroom.com for mac users…

    Especially with more Mac mindshare, the Mac gaming community looks very healthy.. I don’t need a plodding VPC for games…

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