Virgin Media to Launch DRM-Free Unlimited Music Service

Rob Williams

Staff member
From our front-page news:
It looks like Apple's iTunes service is soon to get some real competition, and all I can say is, "It's about time". But here's the unique twist... the service soon to launch isn't by some non-music-related company, but rather Virgin Media and Universal Music, the latter of which is largest music label in the world. And before you say there's going to be an incredible amount of limitations and drawbacks, think again.

It's easier to just quote a portion of the release, "The service - a world first - will enable any Virgin Media broadband customer to both stream and download as many music tracks and albums as they want from Universal Music's entire catalog, in return for a great-value monthly subscription fee." (emphasis ours). Alright, so the downside is that this service is going to be UK-only, and you'll need to be a Virgin Broadband subscriber.

The music will be offered as a service with a monthly fee (~$16 - $24), and with that, you'll be able to download, stream and keep as much of the DRM-free music as you want. Seems a little too good to be true, right? We'll have to wait and see. They certainly won't have the selection that iTunes will, but Universal owns an almost-countless number of sub-labels, so you certainly wouldn't get bored too quickly.

Though there won't be any anti-piracy measures in place, the company did say it would work towards educating their subscribers about the rights and wrongs, and since this runs through Virgin's own broadband service, if people are found to download and share their wares, then the company can suspend their Internet service for a certain amount of time. That seems fair. I'm really, really interested in seeing how this will succeed. If this doesn't, what on earth would?


This will involve implementing a range of different strategies to educate file sharers about online piracy and to raise awareness of legal alternatives. They include, as a last resort for persistent offenders, a temporary suspension of internet access. No customers will be permanently disconnected and the process will not depend on network monitoring or interception of customer traffic by Virgin Media.

Source: Virgin Media Press Release