BT planning music streaming service

music

Report outlines Spotify rival from heavyweight ISP

BT is considering setting up a music service for its customers, marking a new chapter in the love-hate relationship between the music business and the web.

The service could be available in "the near future", with a free trial an option in the first months of the service, according to BT.

“We are very keen to launch a music service in the near future, but it will have to be with a model that customers will want and can work financially for BT," the company told PC Pro in a statement. "We are in the early development stage so we are not currently in a position to comment further.”

We are very keen to launch a music service in the near future, but it will have to be with a model that customers will want and can work financially for BT

As the UK's largest ISP, BT has invariably carried a huge amount of illegal downloads that the record companies have blamed for falling sales.

BT has also been active in fighting aspects of the anti-file-sharing side of the Digital Economy Act, with the ISP a chief protagonist in a judicial review of the legislation.

But according to an Invitation to Tender leaked to the Guardian, BT now plans to make online music pay.

The music service would be free to its 5.5 million users for the first six to nine months, with fees introduced after that time, the paper said, adding the leak showed BT was in talks with Universal Music and EMI.

It is unclear how BT might make such a model work, or how the payments system would stack up, but a loss-leading six-month free trial might be enough to wean customers away from illegal sites, at least temporarily.

The Guardian also raised the possiblility of a tie-in with streaming music service Spotify, which already has a million paying European subscribers.

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