New music streaming service launches

By | Published on Wednesday 14 December 2011


Omnifone, the company which powers various digital music platforms, including the music bit of the Sony Entertainment Network, has launched a new streaming service seemingly aimed at a less web-savvy audience, and which is initially entering the market at a lower price point than its competitors.

According to Omnifone, has been developed based on a survey of 1000 people, of which 70% had not bought a digital track in six months, and 60% had never used a digital music service at all. This market, Omnifone say, is currently not properly targeted by existing digital platforms, and will fill that gap.

How will they manage this? Well, who knows? Although is apparently “designed specifically for the mass market who still use CDs”, it’s not entirely clear why those people would be specifically interested in it. It has an overly fussy design (with one of the key selling points that you can customise the background and cover art for playlists), it has no free trial, and it doesn’t aappear to offer the Pandora-style radio that all streaming services now seem to agree is core to mainstream success.

On the plus side, it does already have all four major labels as well as some unidentified “leading independents” on board, and will come pre-loaded on new HP PCs in Europe, the Middle East and Asia (although, of course, it’s never easy to convince PC owners to use pre-loaded third party software – especially that which they have to pay to access). In total, it’s available in sixteen countries at launch, including the UK and US, with another seven territories to go live next week. Mobile apps are also planned.

Although there is no free option, the service will be charged in the UK at 99p per month for desktop access, or £1.99 per month for web and mobile web access, for the first three months. After the trial period, the cost will rise to the industry standard of £4.99 or £9.99 per month depending on functionality. It was the trial offer was keen to talk up yesterday though.

Tim Hadley of Omnifone and told CMU: “Uniquely, you can experience access to all the music you want, ad-free, for less than the price of a single track. Whether you’re into Gaga or Elgar, is a new kind of streaming music service which makes accessing the music you love online easier and more delightful than ever; type into your web browser and you have a world of music at your fingertips”.

Notable by its absence from the new service are Merlin, which represents the big independents in the digital space. Merlin chief Charles Caldas was very critical of Omnifone’s decision to launch without the labels he represents on board, telling Music Week: “I am truly astounded that any company could still be so absurdly arrogant and short sighted as to ask consumers to spend good money on what is an incomplete and inherently inferior product to many that are already in the market”.

He continued: “Despite the fact that independents represent a third of the market and that the biggest artist in the world this year is released by an independent, we still see a service launched without a deal in place with the world’s key indies as represented by Merlin – meaning the service will not feature some of the most important artists in the world. I am sure consumers won’t be hoodwinked by more smoke and mirrors, not when there are comprehensive services available to them”.

Omnifone insists the independents have not been ignored in its plans for, that some indies are already on board, and talks with the others continue. Meanwhile, you can watch a brief video outlining’s functionality here: