December 22, 2010, 2:33 PM

Sony debuts a digital music service

Catalog initially will offer 6 million songs from major music labels and publishers.

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Sony Corp. today launched a digital music service that gives users access at any time to millions of songs from major labels. The “Music Unlimited powered by Qriocity” catalog will initially offer about 6 million songs from labels including the four largest: Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and EMI Music, as well as leading independent labels and major publishers worldwide.

The new service is initially available in the United Kingdom and Ireland with roll-out to the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and New Zealand slated for 2011.

Subscribers can play music on a variety of Internet-connected Sony devices including 2010 models of network-enabled Bravia TV, Blu-ray Disc player, Blu-ray Disc Home Theater system, PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system, and Vaio and other personal computers. It also will be available on a range of Sony’s portable devices and on Android-based mobile devices and other portable devices.

Sony, parent of SonyStyle.com, No. 13 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, developed Music Unlimited in partnership with Omnifone, a provider of music services through the cloud computing, or hosted services, model. Omnifone will coordinate content licensing and development and delivery of the service.

Music Unlimited is an extension of “powered by Qriocity” services. Sony debuted “Video On Demand,” a premium video streaming service, in the U.S. in April 2010 and expanded it to France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the U.K. in November.

“As we continue to expand Qriocity globally, these services offer a single ID log-in and wallet solution, and empower users to easily consume content including music and video across a growing number of integrated devices,” says Kazuo Hirai, president of Sony’s networked products and services group.

Music Unlimited offers two monthly subscription plans: Basic, priced at 3.99 pounds (US$6.13) in the U.K. and 3.99 euros in Ireland and Premium, priced at 9.99 pounds (US$15.36) in the U.K. and 9.99 euros in Ireland. The basic plan permits unlimited forward skipping of songs to ensure users discover music they want to hear. Subscribers can listen to dozens of personalized channels, categorized by genre, era, or mood, without downloading or managing their music files. Additionally, the premium subscription plan offers a one-time, 30-day Premium free trial enabling users to listen in full to every song on demand, create personal playlists of favorites and gain access to premium Top 100 channels that are regularly updated with the latest hits.

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