Play.com has signed up with all four major music labels to offer more than 3 million DRM-free tracks on its PlayDigital music download site, in a direct challenge to iTunes and Nokia’s (NYSE: NOK) Comes with Music. Consumers can now get tracks from Sony (NYSE: SNE) BMG, Warner (NYSE:WMG), Universal and EMI — and you don’t need an iPhone or iPod to play them. The move comes less then a month after 7Digital launched its own DRM-free download site with tracks from the big four. As Telegraph.co.uk quite reasonably puts it, the move “constitutes a significant challenge to Apple’s (NSDQ: AAPL) dominance of the digital download space”. Play.com’s expansion comes ahead of rumoured DRM-free music sites from Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN), which already has a US music download site, supermarket chain Tesco and high street music store HMV.
And Play.com is looking to undercut iTunes — PlayDigital head Wendy Snowdon says that not only do consumers get choice of device but “a more appealing price”. Today, you can get Oasis’s new album Dig Out Your Soul for £4.99 on PlayDigital compared with £7.99 on iTunes. As the music industry continues to search for a way to replace revenue lost to free downloading, it seems that it continues to hedge its bets on which model – mobile subscription, paid-for downloads, or good-old fashioned CD and ticket sales – will win out in the end.
— It’s not long since the British music industry was royally annoyed at Channel Islands-based Play.com for selling CDs only cleared for sale outside Europe. The British Phonographic Industry body settled with the company after a court case in February.