January 12, 2007

When will music subscriptions take off?

During testing Virgin Digital, and since we launched the new site, I've had the player on pretty much constantly; a subscription service is a bit like a dishwasher or air-con in a car - once you get used to it there's no going back.

The subscription concept hasn't really caught on yet, although Napster recently reported some more encouraging numbers. I think that the tipping point will come when all-you-can-eat subscription services start to be bundled with other services such as broadband, mobile or TV packages. If you can add a music package to your monthly bill from Sky, BT or Virgin Media for a few pounds, that sounds like an attractive proposition.

The last piece of that jigsaw is user-friendly home networking capability. While there are plenty of ways to hook up a PC to home speakers or a TV, either they aren't that easy to use or they aren't being marketed too well to potential users. Microsoft is really pushing this as a benefit of Vista (integrated with Xbox 360) and Apple is also active - expect some significant moves forward in 2007.

Posted by melvin | 4:28 PM | Comments (0)



I've been working with Virgin Digital for the last few months, managing the development and delivery of a new music download service.

The new service replaces one that was developed by Virgin in the US, which closed down last week. Knowing that the US service was closing made the project a race against time, but thanks to a lot of hard work - big thanks to the development team at Interesource - we made it!

The big change is that while the old service required customers to download and install a 25MB software application, even if they only wanted to buy a single track, the new service is completely web-based - as far as we know the first in the world.

As well as the store, there is a music club. For only £9.99 a month club members can listen to all the music they want, 24 hours a day. They can stream and create playlists in the very cool Virgin Digital Player, or download unlimited tracks to listen to offline. For an extra fiver , club members can transfer their downloaded tracks to a compatible MP3 player.

Over the few weeks we'll be working on some enhancements to improve the site's performance: but already sales have increased significantly compared with the old service. The advantage of a web service is that it can easily be changed to improve design and usability, and add features. There are some exciting developments planned over the coming months so watch this space...

Posted by melvin | 3:37 PM | Comments (0)