Omnifone Eyes U.S. Expansion With 'Big Players' Following Qriocity Launch
Omnifone Eyes U.S. Expansion With 'Big Players' Following Qriocity Launch

Omnifone, the technology provider behind several music streaming services in the UK, is preparing for an aggressive entry into the U.S. market this year.

The service already has a foothold here with Sony's Qriocity Music Unlimited service. The service is a hybrid of on-demand subscription service, scan-and-match music locker, and personalized Internet radio service (depending on which service tier users choose), all of which is powered by Omnifone's technology.

According to CEO Jeff Hughes, the company is "far along" in conversations with additional brands interested in offering some flavor of the above services as well. They include consumer electronics manufacturers, mobile and automotive firms.

"We're talking to a lot of really big players in the U.S., because everyone's got a presence there," Hughes told Billboard via phone from London, where Omnifone is based. "We're well down the road with a couple of pretty large companies that are looking to do really large global services who want to use our APIs to get to market quicker than everybody else. You will see more services launching this year, certainly."

Omnifone has music licenses with all necessary rightsholders for the U.S. market, as well as all of North America, and parts of South America, in addition to Europe and Asia. Earlier in the week Omnifone struck a deal with Music Reports, which will handle all mechanical licensing and royalty reporting for is U.S. operations. Depending on the kind of service Omnifone's partners want to launch, they will still need to strike licenses with the rightholders as well. The more "standard" the service, the less work that will require, as Omnifone holds many of the rights already.

Overseas, Omnifone's MusicStation platform powers music services offered by mobile phone manufacturers (LG, Sony Ericsson), mobile operators (Vodafone, Telenor, 3 Hong Kong), and is targeting ISPs as well.

"White label" services like Omnifone have come and gone before. Melodeo, Loudeye, OD2, and several others tried this in the early 2000's, only to be acquired, go out of business, or radically change business models due to the inability of clients to effectively compete with Apple's iTunes.