With 95 percent of the world’s music downloads still estimated to be illegal, the world’s biggest music label is pushing the nuclear-option button. Universal, which has already been offering its catalog through all-you-can-eat DRM’ed services, is now offering the whole thing for MP3 download through an upcoming new unlimited-music package from UK ISP Virgin Media.
eMusic already offers a limited number of mostly indie MP3s via monthly subscription, while other truly-unlimited monthly services tend to come with DRM locks. Like eMusic, Virgin’s entry-level option will only offer a few monthly downloads, but the full service will offer unlimited unprotected downloads and streaming each month. The monthly fee will be less than the cost of two albums, we understand – in effect, Universal is massively marking down the cost of its repertoire (at least to heavy users) in order to regain revenue from the majority, illegal music consumption.
But there will be a carrot-and-stick approach – acting before the UK government tells ISPs how they should tackle piracy on Tuesday, Virgin said its new offering will be accompanied by a range of measures against illegal file-sharers. That will include writing warning letters to downloaders, leading to