SkySongs will be a Zune – late, dull… and probably brown

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[UK] Presumably missing the obvious opportunity to launch “SkyTunes” to compete with the slightly better known iTunes (I guess because of the legalities) the UK broadcaster Sky is launching SkySongs some 15 months after it said it would.

Kicking off next week on October 19, the service will have all the major labels and 100 independents – but its four million catalogue compares badly with 7digital’s, for example. But then again, we are not really talking about Sky service here. We are talking about a re-skinned MusicStation /Omnifone. Omnifone is an independent provider of music services, with MusicStation being its main product. It’s won lots of industry awards, apparently.

Sky will of course be able to pimp it to its heart’s content to its TV, broadband and phone customers, and free offers are already being pushed. All Sky broadband customers who access the site will get a free downloadable album worth £6.49. Woot.

So what is it? It’s basically a browser-based shop where you stream or download DRM free MP3s. There are two subscription options and pricing is on the cheap side:

• pay £6.49 and download either a £6.49 album or 10 songs, and stream whole catalogue

• pay £7.99 and download either a £7.99 album or 15 songs, and stream whole catalogue

• Individual tracks are from £0.65 each – cheaper than iTunes for instance

You won’t have to be a Sky subscriber – anyone can use it.

However, even before the launch I am hearing a lot of shrugging of shoulders and dismissive comments from people who’ve seen the service.

Despite a fairly slick playlist/player experience with some editorial window dressing, SkySongs appears to do little to organise your music in the way that iTunes does on the desktop. So calling it an iTunes killer is somewhat premature. I have yet to hear from Sky on how people will organise their downloads and sync them with mobile devices. Drag and drop anyone?

Oh, hold on! Here’s MusicStation’s desktop software. They also have some kind of mobile edition. The trouble is, will the average consumer dump their existing iTunes software or similar for Sky’s new service? It’s highly unlikely.

And at least one Sky skeptical insider told us that they think SkySongs it will be a “Zune” – as in, late to market, not very good and probably coloured brown.

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