Virgin launches music service and takes aim at file sharers

Virgin Media is launching a music service with the support of only one record label – and is threatening to suspend the accounts of those caught downloading music illegally.

Virgin launches music service and takes aim at file sharers

The as-yet unnamed service will be a subscription-based add-on for Virgin Media broadband customers, and will cost “the price of a couple of albums per month”.

Customers will also be able to stream music, and an entry-level, limited-download service will also be available.

However, only artists signed to Universal will be on the Virgin service, leaving the vast majority of mainstream music unavailable.

Virgin is in talks with the three other market-leading record labels, but unless it’s able to sign deals the service will fall behind most existing online music stores in terms of availability.

Those users who turn to illegal sources for any artists they cannot download could find their accounts “temporarily suspended”, with Universal handling most of the “detective work”, according to a Virgin spokesperson.

Although the standard subscription will have no download restrictions, customers will be tied into the service for an unspecified amount of time, likely to be the length of their broadband contract.

As music will remain playable after the subscription ends, the lengthy contract has been imposed to stop customers paying for one month’s subscription and downloading the entire Universal back catalogue.

The service is expected to launch at the end of this year, and will be available only to Virgin Media customers.

It is almost a year ago to the day that Virgin announced it would be clamping down on illegal file-sharers by sending out warning letters.

Those identified as downloaders were sent two letters; one from Virgin itself, and one from the British Phonographic Institute, both warning that they have been spotted and should stop illegally downloading.

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