Joining the suddenly swelling ranks of music services such as MSN Music, Napster, and Virgin Music that will integrate Windows Media Player (WMP) and offer subscription-based content, UK-based On Demand Distribution (OD2) announced today that it's launching a similar service in Europe dubbed SonicSelector. OD2's service will be available this week and works with the current version of WMP. SonicSelector will be available from several European retailers, including MSN, MTV, Packard Bell, and Tiscali, in France, Germany, Italy, and the UK.
"We have created a tool which makes it easy for users to manage their digital music collection and to freely combine music that they purchase on CD or download from the Internet with the ability to listen to any song from the online catalogue on a pay-per-play basis," OD2 CEO Charles Grimsdale said. "We believe this is a unique philosophy and one which will appeal to millions of music lovers."
Like many Windows-based music services, SonicSelector will let customers discover new music, browse an online store that will offer more than 350,000 tracks, stream and download tracks, burn songs to CD-ROM, and transfer content to any one of more than 70 compatible portable-music devices. (By contrast, the popular Apple iTunes Music Store works only with Apple Computer's expensive iPod devices.) But OD2, which was doing business in Europe long before big-company rivals such as Apple and Napster showed up, will fight back with aggressive pricing and unique services. The SonicSelector service will offer half-price (0.5 euro) songs through an introductory launch offer and going forward will reward frequent customers with lower prices because prices will go down as customers buy more songs. In addition, OD2 will offer a no-strings approach to streaming music from its catalog. Customers will be able to listen to the full versions of songs for just 0.1 euro per song; the service won't have a monthly subscription fee.
Meanwhile, other Windows-based services will also soon offer the ability to copy subscription-based songs to portable devices, although that capability must wait until Microsoft ships WMP 10 this fall. Market leader Apple has publicly denied that it's working on a subscription-based service, although the company is expected to announce its entry into the European digital-music-sales market tomorrow. That service is expected to be roughly identical to the company's purchase-only US store.