London (UK) – Virgin Media and Universal Music announced plans to offer unlimited music downloads for a flat fee. It isn’t quite the groundbreaking idea it is made up to be, as similar thought came up after the shutdown of Napster back in 2002. Now the music download environment seems to have matured enough to roll out such a service. We just don’t know how much it will cost. How much would it be worth to you?
Imagine downloading any song you would want, without having to worry about a $1 cost per song or a budget that is limited the amount left on an iTunes gift card. Such a service is now being promised by UK’s Virgin Media and Universal Music. According to a press release, the service “will enable any Virgin Media broadband customer to both stream and download as many music tracks and albums as they want from Universal Music's entire catalog, in return for a great-value monthly subscription fee.”
Customers will be able to keep downloaded music permanently, whether they remain subscribers or not, and will be able to load the music on “any” MP3 compatible device. The service will be complemented by an "entry level" offer for customers who download music regularly, but may not want an unlimited service. It is expected to launch “later this year”.
In a statement, the companies said that “the new service reflects the shared commitment of Virgin Media and Universal Music to keep step with growing demand for online music in an increasingly digital world.” Also, the firms “will be working together to protect Universal Music's intellectual property and drive a material reduction in the unauthorized distribution of its repertoire across Virgin Media's network.”
The big question, of course is: How much will this service cost? We already know that music publishers won’t settle for anything less than what they get from iTunes. In fact, it will have to be more, since the term “unlimited” always carries a perception of extra value. If Universal can increase the average revenue per user, it could turn into a win-win scenario for the industry and users. It is fair to assume that the cost per song for consumers will go down, potentially dramatically for those who intend to fill up their song library.
So, how much is a reasonable amount for unlimited access? $20 per month? $50? $75? $100? As long as we do not know the actual pricing and more details about the service, the price is pure speculation. But, of course, we are interested in how much you would pay. Let us know by writing a comment below.