New York (NY) – Consumers who buy a new Nokia phone will be able to download as many Sony BMG songs as they want for a year, as part of an expanding promotional program from Nokia’s recently launched music service.
Nokia launched the “Comes With Music” campaign last year, allowing buyers of certain handsets to have “all you can eat” access to Universal Music tracks. Sony BMG has now joined in as well.
Similar promotional programs have existed for subscription-based music services for a while, giving users a few months fee-free. However, Nokia’s initiative is much different because users retain ownership of all songs they access.
“It’s not like some other subscription services where you lose everything,” said Nokia executive VP Tero Ojanpera. After the 12 months, users can continue to use Comes with Music for an as-yet-undefined subscription fee, but will be able to retain access to any songs downloaded during the free period.
“When you give consumers the key to the candy store without any limitations, there’s a lot more opportunity for discovering music that you might not have found before,” said Sony BMG president of global distribution Thomas Hesse.
It is a unique move for Sony BMG, as well as Universal which kicked off the program last December. The music giants are uneasy about anyone who gets free access to their licensed tracks.
However, many labels are turning to new profit models. Nokia undoubtedly is giving a nice cut of its sales to Universal and Sony, and Youtube has offered to share profits with any record company that allows users full access to its music.
It’s also a catch-up move for Nokia. The #1 handset maker’s latest attempt to create momentum for the mobile music market. Previously it has offered only basic and spotty music services. With competition from Sprint’s music store and of course Apple’s iPhone with iTunes integration, the market is finally beginning to open up.