Summary:

Nokia’s much-discussed music store (URL: http://music.nokia.com) will go live across “key European markets” this fall, and will be followed…

Nokia’s much-discussed music store (URL: http://music.nokia.com) will go live across “key European markets” this fall, and will be followed by other stores in Europe and Asia over the coming months. The pricing details are fairly reasonable (individual tracks for 1 euro (US$1.36), albums for 10 euros (US$13.62)), although I’m not sure how that stacks up against iTunes in Europe, which is considered the site to beat. The service will arrive with the new N81 and N95 8GB handsets (and the Nokia 5310 XpressMusic and Nokia 5610 XpressMusic are also mentioned), and can be accessed over-the-air or via PC. There will also be unlimited streaming of songs to PC, which Nokia is touting as a good way to discover new music. This is effectively dual-download, and will let people take music with them when they upgrade handsets. There’s no mention of DRM (it will probably be PlayReady), but the songs will be delivered in high-quality 192Kbps audio in WMA format — they can be transfered to and from the phones with Windows Media Player or the new Nokia Music PC client, which will come out later this year.

The service will include recommendations, a “wishlist” for keeping track of songs you want to buy later, the ability to create playlists, edit song and artist information, add album artwork and so on. There will also be genre-based instant playlists as a way to discover new music. Payment will be via credit card, PayPal or pre-paid vouchers, which covers most angles. Nokia cites millions of tracks available from the major labels, and from thousands of independent labels around the world…also podcast subscriptions. (release)

Ingrid writes: In the UK, Nokia will be level-pegging itself with Apple’s iTunes service, selling tracks for the same price of 79 pence ($1.59). Apple has faced some scrutiny from the European Commission over inconsistent pricing in different European countries; perhaps Nokia may find itself in similar waters. In any case, Nokia is already claiming some kind of dominance over its stated rival. Andrew Connell, head of multimedia for Nokia UK, quoted in the Daily Mail: “The obvious competitor here is Apple. But we believe we can compete. We have 900 million devices out there which can play music and we believe by offering mobile and PC downloads for the same price we can take Apple on directly.”

Update: The panel on music had some interesting points (although I can’t find the details of the participants, but it included representives of Nokia, Universal, and Publishers).
–The songs from the Nokia Music Store are DRM protected with WMA, but the handsets will play a wide variety of different audio formats, including MP3 and AAC. Likewise, songs bought from the Nokia Music Store will play on any WMA-capable peripheral.
–The panel agreed that subscription would be a significant business within 12 months.
–Across the globe, and across all the different types of music (including live music), 2006 was the best year the music publishing industry has had in terms of revenue. Revenues from mobile and digital are still very low, but with good potential.
–Digital music is 10 percent of the UK market.

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