Virgin Digital downloads for the last time

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The dangers of hooking yourself up to a DRM-enabled music rental store which could go bang at any moment are highlighted today with the news that Virgin Digital customers will lose all their music when the store closes its doors next month.

Virgin Digital was a two-year old Windows Media-based alternative to Apple’s iTunes, but it stopped selling one-off downloads last week and next month their songs will no longer be playable, thanks to DRM imitations built into each track.

Virgin announced the move via an email to customers this weekend. Their only option is to back-up their tracks or attempt to burn them to a CD and re-import them as MP3s. Not an easy task where hundreds of albums are concerned. Virgin gave no reason for the shut-down, but it is offering UK subscribers a free month’s usage of “Virgin Media’s music streaming service” – a new service the combined broadband, cable TV and mobile phone network will be announcing this week. US subscribers will have their Virgin Digital pre-pay cards and vouchers honoured by Napster.

This is the latest music store to be squeezed between the leading iTunes, Napster UK and “illegal” sites like Russia’s, which sold non-DRM MP3s for as little at $0.10 each and which – until its closure through legal action in July this year – accounted for more sales than all the UK music stores combined, outside of iTunes.


  • paulpod

    I used to buy a disproportionate amount of records from a publisher called Factory – they are no longer but I can still my play all my records. I also used to shop at a great dingy record shop in Blackpool – it is long gone, but again all those records work still. I can lend a friend one of my records and they can listen to it and maybe even return it (the buggers). I can make a deep and meaningful mixtape of carefully selected songs for my girlfriend from these records.

    What I’m getting at is that DRM can be added to digital music, but it must allow the activities we, the music fans, consider *normal* usage and not aggregate each of those uses as a completely bogus “lost sale”. That way madness, and bankruptcy, lies musicbizpeeps.

  • Julian Bond

    AllOfMp3 is closed down? But I used it today! Admittedly under it’s new name.

    I’m still waiting for someone Amazon(?) to do a legitimate western site using the same approach and pricing.

  • Gareth Rushgrove

    Problem with that low pricing seems to be the volume you need to make the credit card payments for individual transactions go away through dealing directly with a payment processor.

    And whether the difference between $0.10 and $0.79 means you get less piracy and more purchases? I’m not so sure.

  • Jack

    mp3sugar’s where it’s at.

  • Asif Ifteakhar Ridoy

    Dentist Tarzana, Encino,Woodland Hills, Irvine,Implant,Braces

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