Music Labels and Carriers to Steal iPhone Thunder

musicsationlogo.pngAccording to Reuters, British Omnifone has signed deals with the big four music labels (Universal, EMI, Sony/BMG, and Warner Music) and 30 cell carriers to sell subscriptions to unlimited music downloads on cell phones.

No doubt this is in response to the iPhone/iTunes integration and Apple’s existing iTunes mobile extension. The spread of iTunes on mobiles, which cuts out carrier commissions, has carriers worried.

musicstationscreen.pngThe service, called MusicStation, will work on all 2.5-3G compatible phones. It is being released throughout Europe, starting today with Sweden, a full two weeks before the iPhone release. They expect 80% of Western Europe’s existing phones to be compatible with the service.

MusicStation costs 2.99 euros/week or 1.99 pounds/week for downloading an unlimited number of songs. Songs take about 15 seconds to download and by the end of the year Omnifone expects to have a library of over 1 million songs. The application lets you make playlists, find new artists, and follow artist specific news.

Some alternative mobile music services are MyStrands, Avvenu, Pandora, or mobile Rhapsody radio, which costs $6.95/month. However, a study conducted last year found 44% of users had no interest in downloading music to their mobiles and only 6% of users would download music from their mobile provider.