updated 04:20 pm EDT, Tue July 22, 2008
Sky to offer music service
Sky, a UK-based TV, Internet and phone provider, is reported to soon start offering a subscription-based music download service in collaboration with Universal Music. Unlike other similar services, the downloaded music will be DRM-free, meaning users can freely copy it, share it, burn CDs and play it on all their devices. Sky's service, which the company claims will be the world's first, will initially offer access to hundreds of thousands of songs.
The company is expecting to sign up other music companies to expand its offerings. Unlike iTunes, which sells songs on an individual basis, Sky will offers customers unlimited streaming music in addition to a limited number of downloads.
One of the challenges Sky will need to address is that of policing the illegal sharing of copyrighted materials by its subscribers, as the music industry has been pressuring Internet service providers to do so. With Sky taking on the role of providing DRM-free content in addition to already being an ISP, it may need to take steps in that direction to appease its music industry partners. All Sky has said is that its new service will try to ensure that "artists are properly rewarded for their creativity."
Universal says the cooperation with Sky will allow it to target families. Its recent collaboration with Nokia and the Comes With Music service, which charges an initial premium for a Nokia cell phone but includes one year of music downloads, is aimed at individuals.