Virgin & Universal Music to launch unlimited music download service

MUMBAI: Virgin Media and Universal Music unveiled plans for a new digital music service designed to bring about a rapid and permanent change in the way UK consumers buy and listen to music.

The service — a world first — 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 monthly subscription fee. Downloaded music will be theirs to keep permanently and to store on any MP3 compatible device. An "entry level" offer will also be available for customers who download music regularly, but may not want an unlimited service.

The service is slated to launch later this year. Virgin Media is negotiating with other UK major and independent music labels and publishers to ensure it can offer a complete catalog by the time it launches.

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. In parallel, the two companies 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.

This will involve implementing a range of different strategies to educate file sharers about online piracy and to raise awareness of legal alternatives. They include a temporary suspension of internet access. No customers will be permanently disconnected and the process will not depend on network monitoring or interception of customer traffic by Virgin Media.

Virgin Media CEO Neil Berkett said, "In terms of both convenience and value, our new music service will be superior to anything that’s available online today and provides a fair deal for both consumers and artists. There is no better example of Virgin Media’s commitment to harnessing digital technology to give customers what they want, when they want and how they want."

Universal Music Group International chairman and CEO Lucian Grainge added, "Britain has a world-class reputation for artists and music. Now British consumers will have access to a world-class digital music service. I believe this puts all of us at the forefront of a new era."

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