A digital music download service that allows consumers to buy songs instantly as they listen to them on digital radio will start operating across Britain in the first half of 2007, UBC Media said on Monday.
The London-based radio programming producer said it had reached agreements with radio companies, record companies and mobile operators to launch the service in London by early 2007 and across the country by May of that year.
In an interview, UBC Chief Executive Simon Cole said consumers would be able to download music digitally to mobile devices such as radios and mobile phones, which will appear later this year. In addition, a downloaded song would also go to the buyer’s Web-based music library.
He said research had shown that the service was most popular with listeners listening to the radio at home and with people who had previously been put off by downloading music because they thought it was too complicated.
The new mobile phones and radios will track download usage. Cole said UBC was in talks with one manufacturer that was looking to develop a digital radio for use in the home that would be able to operate the service.
In a statement, the company said listeners would pre-pay for songs using a credit plan similar to the one commonly used for mobile phone calls. Each song would cost around 1.25 pounds.
“Anybody who believes that advertising on its own is going to support the future of the radio industry is living in cloud cuckoo land,” he said.
“Radio listening is actually at its strongest ever. More 15 to 24 year olds are listening to commercial radio at the moment than have ever done before, but radio revenue is not rising to sustain the development.
“You have to concentrate on average revenue per user rather than just overall revenue, and the way to do that is to begin to monetise your listeners directly. This is, we believe the killer application in terms of monetising your listeners.”
UBC has been testing the technology, known as Digital Music Downloading, on Chrysalis Group’s Heart station.
It expects to have digital music download services operating on Heart FM, Smash Hits from Emap Plc, Smooth from Guardian Media Group and Classic Gold Digital, which UBC jointly owns with GCapMedia.
It expects to announce further radio stations that will enable DMD in the coming weeks.
UBC said it had also finalized commercial terms with the major music companies and music publishers on copyright payments.
It said it was finalizing commercial terms with Virgin Mobile as a mobile phone customer service and billing partner.
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