Microsoft Launching Mobile Music Downloads In UK, Tracks Are DRM-Protected

Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) has launched a UK mobile music download platform offering more than one million tracks and 10,000 videos from Sony (NYSE: SNE) BMG, EMI Music and Warner Music. The paid-for MSN Mobile Music service, launched in partnership with London-based VidZone Digital Media, offers tracks for £1.50 ($2.07), ringtones for £3 ($4.05) and videos for £2 ($2.77) from — charges will appear on users’ monthly bills or be deducted from pre-pay credit. Microsoft claims MSN Mobile has become the UK’s largest commercial mobile portal from a non-mobile operator in the 12 months since its launch. VidZone also has commercial relationships with Microsoft’s XBox Live and the MSN video portal.

The prices seem steep in comparison with other paid download sites around: market leader iTunes, which will soon allow 3G iPhone users to buy songs, commonly offers single tracks for £0.79 ($1.09), while goes as low as £0.59 ($0.77) for recently released singles. And points out that unlike those download services, MSN Mobile tracks are not DRM-free. A message on the help section of the site reads: “When you purchase the music, you get unlimited plays for the content whilst it remains on the device. At this stage, you cannot transfer your music to another device or PC.

The service should be working on 130 handsets with more added this year, but some folks have had some early problems getting it to work.