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The music industry must feel like a maraca as of late, because every company under the sun is doing what it can to shake things up. From online digital music distribution sites (authorized or otherwise), to artists offering their tracks for free download, to retailers dropping CD prices. Now, popular cell phone manufacturer Nokia could shake things up yet again by offering a mobile phone that not only comes with the ability to access an unlimited number of music downloads for a year, but also lets the customer keep the tracks once the year is over!
To date, any company (to my knowledge) that offers digital music downloads will either permit access to tunes on only the device from which it was downloaded; or, in the case of unlimited downloading, will prevent access to the tunes once a subscription or contract has expired. In many cases, even if a customer can transfer or rip downloaded tunes to an MP3 player or recordable CD, they might be limited to a specific number of them (like up to 3 devices). Sure, we’ve just started to see DRM-free tunes hit the wire, which are 100% free from these such restrictions; but they’re only available on a pay-per-use or pay-per-album basis.
With this new service from Nokia, aptly named Comes With Music, once a tune is downloaded, it’s yours to keep and do with it as you like: burn to a CD, transfer to an MP3 player, or just store it on the PC. If you decide you don’t want to continue downloading tunes once the year has completed, those tracks are still yours to keep, whether you downloaded 10 of them, or 10,000. The program currently includes Universal Music tracks, but Nokia says it’s “in talks” with other major international labels to add their titles to the roster.
“We set out to create the music experience that people are telling us they are looking for: all the music they want in the form of unlimited downloads to their mobile device and PC,” said the company’s Executive V.P. and G.M., Multimedia, Anssi Vanjoki. “Comes With Music fulfills our dream to give consumers all the music they want, wherever they want it, while rewarding the artists who create it.”
No specific information was provided as to how (or how much) the music labels will be compensated for the service, nor how much a subscription would cost after the one-year period (if you wanted to continue downloading tunes, for instance). However, the very existence of this program provides a good idea as to what we can expect with regards to the future of digital music.
What I find most interesting about this program is that, of all the companies offering digital music and portable music devices, it was a cell phone manufacturer that stepped up to the plate with the most appealing offer. Mobile phones could really give dedicated portable music players an unexpected run for their money: take one look at the iPhone, and you’ll know what I mean.
Unfortunately, a spokesperson tells me that the Comes With Music service is not available in Canada (what else is new); but perhaps if we get more competition in the wireless arena, there will be more opportunity for such services to sneak into Canadia-land as well.