Music MP3 rival for AppleNew service is challenge to iTunes

14 September 2006

A new music download service has been launched in the UK to rival Apple's iTunes.

The service, eMusic, is the world's biggest seller of independent music and second only to iTunes in the digital download market.

However, unlike downloads from most other services, eMusic's songs can be used on all MP3 players, including the iPod.

And while it costs 79p a track to download music from the iTunes online store, eMusic charges as little as 17p a song. However, with eMusic you have to subscribe, and with iTunes, you don't.

The lowest price on eMusic depends on downloading the maximum number of songs for your subscription.

MP3 players

eMusic has more than 1.4 million tracks and includes artists ranging from Johnny Cash and Bob Marley to Basement Jaxx and Paul Weller.

And unlike certain other subscription-based download sites, such as Napster, tracks downloaded from eMusic won't be deleted if you cancel your subscription.

David Pakman, President of eMusic, said: ‘European consumers, fed up with homogeneous music and services focused only on mainstream pop can now discover a wealth of music created to transcend rules, boundaries and commercialism.’

eMusic has been operating in the US since 1998 and has sold more than 85 million tracks in the last three years.

Subscription costs

There are three subscription levels costing £8.99, £11.99 and £14.99. For that you get 40, 65 or 90 monthly downloads respectively.

It’s the second challenge to Apple’s domination of the download market announced in recent weeks.

At the end of August, Universal, the world's biggest music company, announced it was making its entire music catalogue available on a free, legal download service.

Universal Music's MP3 tracks will appear on SpiralFrog, which is set to be launched in Europe early next year.

The service will make money from adverts on its site rather than charging you to download music. SpiralFrog's tracks won't work with the iPod but will work with other MP3 players.

Shop around

Which? MP3 expert Sandie Mattioli said: 'It is great that consumers are getting more choice of online music, but they should always shop around to ensure they are getting a good price and be clear about what the rules about using the music are. For example, how many players and PCs they can copy music to.

'Computing Which? favourites for buying music online are currently iTunes and Napster.'