O2 to offer better music downloads

Mobile phone network O2 will soon launch its new Music Service, offering users the chance to pay once for a track but download it to a number of devic

Mobile phone network O2 will soon launch its new Music Service, offering users the chance to pay once for a track but download it to a number of devices, from their mobile phones to their Xbox. Artists will include acts such as Brightonian posters, The Upper Room (pictured).

If you’ve talked to any music industry type in the past year, they’ll have told you that over-the-air downloads direct to mobile phones are the Next Big Thing. But until now, the market has been slow to take off, despite the success of ringtones.

Why? Because networks are asking us to pay a pound or more for ludicrously compressed – and sometimes even edited – songs that sound worse than recordings from the radio. Which is why O2’s new scheme is a breath of fresh air.

O2’s Music Service is backed by Loudeye – the American download giant that last year bought one of the UK’s largest digital distributors, Peter Gabriel’s OD2. The Loudeye platform allows O2 to offer its customers a pay-once, download-many scheme – so you can buy a track on your mobile and then download it to your Media Center, Xbox and PC without paying more. You can also burn the track to CD.

Specific pricing has yet to be announced but O2 says it will be in line with the current offering – which means tracks will cost between £1 and £1.50. This makes it significantly more expensive than PC downloads but – at last – with a significant benefit to make up for it.

Before we get too carried away with praise, however, it’s worth noting that O2’s rival 3 has been offering a similar dual-download scheme since last autumn [story here].

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