Patrick Goss: Six reasons why it could succeed
It's DRM Free.
Paul has stuck the likes of Spotify and Napster in his reasons that Virgin Media's music deal will fail, but he skates over the most important point – that for your monthly fee you get music that is both guilt and string free.
When you get this music it will be in MP3 format – no woes about getting it onto your iPod, no worries about whether you can listen to it on your portable device and no concerns that, when you stop using the service, your entire music collection will become holier than the Pope.
DRM is an inelegant, archaic control mechanism that needs to die, and Virgin has potentially found a way to do just this.
It's for the family
No more worries about little Jimmy hammering the torrent sites for the latest MCR, no more concerns about forking out for the new High School Musical Album for tweeny Tori. Obviously MP3s can be freely copied anyway – but Virgin Media is actually selling this service as 'for households' and not for an individual.
It's guilt free
Why do people use pirate sites? Is it because they are taunting the establishment and undermining authority? Well, for some people perhaps, but the majority of people are just after something for nothing. Given the option, and a fair price, I think the majority of people would prefer to get their music without the fear of legal repercussion.
£15 is a lot – nobody is disputing that – but for an entire household, for DRM free tracks and, if the deals are done, for a choice of music past and present it remains enticing. Plus, Virgin Media will probably offer a lower cost deal for those who don't need the entire back catalogues of artists.
Times they are a changing
Governments are cracking down on piracy and we could even have a situation where our internet connection could be cut off for illegal filesharing. The time is certainly ripe for a viable legal alternative.
It's about the bigger picture
Is the service going to be great with just Universal signed up? Of course not, and unless Virgin Media can back up its claims of talks with other major record labels - unless it can turn talks into tracks – then this service WILL fail.
But this isn't just about Universal, and it's not just about Virgin either. Other record labels, and other ISPs as well, are now under massive pressure to offer a similar service. And with every music track on board – this kind of service is clearly a winner.
The music industry and artists win as well
Although a deal may seem like it's going to take revenue away from the producers, a regular deal provides guaranteed and steady income for the record labels, and that means a reliance on single bands becoming massive brands, may begin to lessen in importance.