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In France, Music Will Be Free

[qi:005] Gotta love that Gallic pride — especially when it comes from the executive suite of broadband service providers competing for their customers’ affection.

Yesterday, neuf Cegetel, a competitive broadband service provider, said it will offer about 150,000 songs and 3,000 videos from Universal Music Group (owned by Vivendi (V), another French company) for about five euros a month.

Today, not to be outdone, France Telecom’s (FTE) Orange France is looking to offer unlimited music downloads (from a much bigger catalog) for free! And here I was talking about music-becoming-a-commodity. It’s happening faster than I thought.

11 Responses to “In France, Music Will Be Free”

  1. A few factual comments: the available catalog in Neuf’s offer is a (small) subset of Universal’s catalog, and the “free” offer only gives access to a genre determined subset of said subset. In order to access the 150k titles, you need to pay 4.99 a month. It’s a loss leader rather than a commodity.

    As for Free’s response, it sounds to me like no response at all: is available to all, and the press release quoted above describes no service that would be specific to Free users (the capacity to design and save playlists seems to be available by default on Sounds more like a response because they have to say something.

    Finally, it’s not surprising that FT/Orange would be working on something similar, but there’s a big gap between “we intend to” and an actual product. Wait and see, I guess.

    Overall, it’ll be interesting to see where this goes, especially considering that Universal seems pretty unhappy with the iTunes near monopoly…