Readies face-off with rival HMV.

Virgin Retail will press the button Sept. 2 on its digital download service in a move that brings it head-to-head with rival HMV Group, the retailer confirmed today (Aug. 1).

The company's online ambitions, regrouped under the Virgin Digital brand, will allow users to choose from either a pay-as-you go or monthly subscription model. A licensed catalog comprising more than a million titles will be available at launch. Downloads will be compatible with Windows Media Audio.

"We are launching Virgin Digital as the demand for quality downloads intensifies," comments Steven Kincaid, marketing director for Virgin Megastores U.K. "With a strong music heritage behind us and a high profile on the high street, we believe Virgin has the best platform to launch a digital service that will become the ultimate download destination."

HMV announced last month its own plans to enter the digital space Sept. 5 through the HMV Digital brand. MusicNet will power both services. Like HMV, Virgin plans to ramp-up interest for its service through a series of live in-store appearances at its retail outlets.

As part of its campaign, Virgin Megastores will host performances from which users will be able to exclusively download the content via the digital service. The retailer says its multi-million pound investment will cross over into advertising, in-store marketing and online spend. Employees at Virgin stores will be trained to offer user support.