updated 10:45 pm EDT, Mon June 30, 2008
Warner on Comes With Music
Nokia tonight signed on Warner Music Group to its Comes With Music unlimited subscription service, joining founding partner Universal and recent entrant Sony BMG in offering its back catalog. The deal lets users buy phones with a Comes With Music premium attached and download an unlimited amount of Warner's music (or of any other label) for a year; all tracks downloaded during that time are the user's to keep, addressing a common complaint regarding most subscription plans.
An agreement with Warner is considered a tipping point for Nokia's plan, as it gives the cellphone maker the lion's share of major-label music and puts it into better competition against traditional music stores for phones, which are either a la carte downloads per song or else subscriptions that are typically more expensive in one year than Comes With Music.
The lone remaining major yet to sign on, EMI, is said to be in discussions.
Labels have been counting on Comes With Music as a solution to rapidly tumbling conventional sales as well as an attempt to find an alternative to conventional stores such as iTunes, which Universal has said imposes "golden handcuffs" on music publishers by forcing them to agree to Apple's licensing and pricing methods to remain successful.
Nokia's plan has been criticized for still allowing copy protection for permanent tracks and for favoring major labels over independents.