BMG Shakes Its Stuff on 3
By Eric Lin, Thu Jul 29 23:45:00 GMT 2004

3UK has announced a new music download service for users of its 3G handsets. Instead of audio, the service will offer streaming or downloading of full length videos.

3 has tapped BMG (which has just merged with Sony) to provide music videos of some of today's best known pop acts. Next week subscribers will be able to download or stream music videos from Christina Aguilera, Outkast and others for GBP 1.50 each. Additionally the videos will be offered as part of a 10 per month package which gives subscribers unlimited access to 3's music and entertainment content. The service will launch with about 40 videos, but 3 and BMG promise more will be added each week -- many before the single is released in stores, and a few as exclusive downloads for 3 subscribers only.

A library of 40 songs from one publisher is not exactly impressive, but 3 deserves credit for pricing this service appropriately for both a mobile as well as PC audience. Although 3 is charging more than a typical PC song download, it is actually giving its users more, justifying the cost in their minds. As a comparison, T-Mobile is charging the same price for a 30 second audio clip as 3 will charge for a full length video.

3's Unlimited Entertainment Add-On is another smart way to reach those who avidly use their PCs for entertainment. Following in the footsteps of Napster, Rhapsody and other subscription service, or even the downloader's "I get everything I want for the price of my net connection" mentality, 3 has created a way for avid users to get the content they want for a reasonable price, making them more likely to add this feature to their monthly plan. In addition this should also encourage more cautious users to try a wider variety of content, eventually making avid users out of them as well.

The price and value of 3's music downloads are a step in the right direction, especially for European mobile music services. However price alone will not make content successful. A big part of content is user demand, and unfortunately 3 has had little success with demand for its video content so far. Sports-related multimedia has been quite popular, could Christina and Justin making moves of a different sort prove as successful?