Pressplay will launch its online music subscription service in mid-September in the form of an "affiliate business model" with a range of offerings to consumers, Vivendi Universal chairman Jean-Marie
Pressplay will launch its online music subscription service in mid-September in the form of an "affiliate business model" with a range of offerings to consumers, Vivendi Universal chairman Jean-Marie Messier tells Billboard Bulletin. "The first thing that Pressplay wants to do is allow consumers to build compilations ... and soon our target is to allure them to transfer their compilations to portable devices," he says. "I hope at the time of launch we will start with much more than half of the music of the world."
Messier also confirms that the company's Vizzavi portal will be a Pressplay affiliate and is due to begin downloading music to mobile devices before the end of the year.
Pressplay, which is being developed by Universal in partnership with Sony Music, will initially roll out on the Yahoo!, MSN, and MP3.com portals; discussions with other potential partners are ongoing and will be announced before the official launch. It is understood that most Pressplay content at launch will be from Universal and Sony. In time, it is expected that Pressplay also will feature music from the three other majors -- BMG, Warner Music, and EMI -- which are partnered with Real Networks for a Pressplay rival, Musicnet.
Indeed, Messier's forecast for the entire online music industry is underpinned by what he perceives as the benefits of "affiliation." He notes, "One day -- and the sooner the better -- we will have to cross-license, because we need to have platforms where all the music in the world will be available to consumers. Today, the business models are not compatible." Messier says he believes this problem will be remedied by next year.
Messier claims that Universal is aiming at a break-even mark for Pressplay in the "magnitude of 1 million subscribers." He also dismisses concerns that recent probes into the initiative by U.S. and European regulators will have an impact on the business. "Pressplay is an open platform to all competitors, and it is obviously pro-consumer," he says.
Meanwhile, during his keynote speech Friday at the Popkomm convention in Cologne, Germany, Messier revealed that the Universal Music Mobile service will launch in four weeks in France. The initiative, aimed at the youth market, will enable users to download Universal songs as ring tones for mobile phones.