Telco Orange has partnered with Universal Music on a free mobile and PC streaming service aimed at young people in the U.K., which the major describes as an "anti-piracy initiative."

U.K. broadcaster Channel 4's 4Music brand is the third partner in the new service, Monkey, which is available to the French telco's pay-as-you-go mobile customers in the U.K. It launches July 30 and is accessible as long as £10 ($16.40) is credited to the user's phone account to make calls or texts each month.

"It's available on any handset so it doesn't require you to have a specific specification of handset, or a high-end one, and it doesn't require any downloads because it's a streaming service," Pippa Dunn, director of pay-as-you-go at Orange U.K., tells Billboard.biz. "Therefore it's open to everybody."

While many mobile music services are part of a contract with monthly bills, Monkey will provide access to music for pay-as-you-go users when they top up their account, along with a specified number of texts. It is described as the first such service in the U.K.

"It's a great value proposition, giving you free music and a whole bunch of stuff you wouldn't otherwise get," says Dunn. "You get the free music as a reward."

Monkey is aimed at 16-24 year olds and users will be able to share playlists via text, email and on social networks. Other registered users of the service will get full access to friends' playlists, while non-users will be able to preview playlist tracks that are embedded on social network pages.

A dedicated Monkey Web site for creating playlists and streaming music will also aim to create a community for users and their playlists. Channel 4's 4Music will use its brand to promote the service and provide editorial content for the Monkey site, as well as promoting the music service offering into its relaunched 4Music Web site.

The 4Music digital TV channel is free-to-air and part of the Box TV music channel portfolio operated by the Channel 4 and Bauer Media joint venture. Sponsorship by Orange is "just one part of this," says Paul Whitehead, head of corporate and business development at Channel 4.

Monkey customers can access the service on their mobile by dialing 247 and choosing from pre-set playlists as well as those created by themselves and their friends. Calls are free although there is a 600-minute per month cap on the mobile service.

The service is described as having "hundreds of thousands" of Universal tracks, and Rob Wells, SVP, digital at Universal Music Group International says this could reach 1 million. There will also be exclusive Universal content on the service.

"The commercial model is aligned with our standard subscription commercial models," says Wells. "There will be a fee per consumer."

Although the revenue may not be as significant as from other digital services, Wells stresses the benefits of such a licensing deal.

"From a Universal perspective, the Monkey service is going to be aimed at a young demographic," says Wells. "Our research shows that a number of these consumers currently don't pay for music full stop. For us this is an anti-piracy initiative and one of our ongoing strategic endeavours to turn people's heads away from the pirate services."

"We like this particular offer because it is available to all consumers across all handsets," he adds. "It is a true mass market proposition. The Monkey tariff is aimed the broad young market who, in our view, don't buy music from a legitimate source."

Wells says the impact of new services can be beneficial in terms of reducing piracy. "One of the streaming services not unlike the Monkey service has drawn in 70% of its user base from illegal services, so this is definitely one of the big weapons in the battle against piracy," he tells Billboard.biz.

"We wanted to create a service which was available to the mass market rather than being something which was fairly niche," says Dunn. "A lot of the music services are very niche by virtue of the handset and also the data charging [from downloads]." Data charges will not apply to Monkey via mobile.

She also describes the initial marketing of rival Nokia's Comes With Music unlimited music offering as "a little confusing."

"I think that's part of the reason why we wanted to partner with people... in terms of being able to take that message out there," she says. "Channel 4 have got a large audience who they can communicate to on what this proposition is." Universal and Orange will also provide marketing for the service.

She adds that Orange is "keeping an open mind" about bringing other labels on board.

Brands will also be involved in advertising on the service, which Dunn says could "potentially in the long term" provide a significant revenue boost.

Orange also now offers the Nokia Comes With Music service as part of a monthly price plan.

"The Nokia Comes With Music service has worked in some territories and not worked as well in others," says Wells. "A lot depends on the amount of operator support, a lot depends on the devices that they have, the marketing message and how easy it is for consumers to embrace a device manufacturer as all of a sudden being a service or music retailer.

"In Singapore it's been doing great numbers for us, it was off to a flying start in Australia, less impressive I agree in the U.K. but that's being addressed, they relaunched with Orange. This was never going to be a sprint, it was always a marathon for Nokia and they are investing considerable amounts of money in making sure they get it right as they roll out around the world."

"We believe the Comes With Music offer is very compelling and a great value for our customers as it revolutionizes the way people can find and enjoy music, and offers unlimited access to millions of tracks from all the major labels and indies which can easily transfer to your compatible Nokia device," said a Nokia statement. "This gives Nokia a huge advantage over competitors in terms of offering a seamless combination of the best possible music devices and experiences."