Vodafone Claims 450,000 Music Subscribers

No single kind of digital service is going to save the music business on its own, but every little helps. Doing its bit, Vodafone (NYSE: VOD) came to the Midem music-biz event having totted up the number of paying customers it has for unlimited subscription music – the model that offers perhaps the most likely salvation…

The result: 450,000 around Europe. That makes it the continent’s biggest subscription music operator, it claimed (Spotify has just over 250,000, it said during the conference, and is looking to provide its service to mobile carriers). Voda attracted 100,000 music subscribers in December alone, it said at the event in Cannes.

The telco first started offering unlimited, DRM’ed music downloads for £1.99, via subscription-music vendor Omnifone’s MusicStation service, in September 2007, so has been in the game a relatively long time, but it’s recently started concentrating again on a la carte downloads, striking deals with major labels to remove DRM. That allows is to offer a bundle of 10 MP3s a month to consumers – an offering that labels have made standard to many retailers.

Voda’s DRM-free repertoire is only about two million, the music industry has digitised some 11 million tracks, but Voda says will have six million soon. Numbers on Nokia’s Comes With Music service are unavailable.

The promise of subscription music services excited music industry folk in Cannes this week.