UPDATED: Sony expands Qriocity with digital music service in Europe, US next
Sony Music has expanded its Music Unlimited streaming service to Europe and plans to launch it in the US by the end of March.
The service was launched in the UK and Ireland last December (see story below), and became available in France, Germany, Italy and Spain this week, with a US launch two months away.
Sony unveiled its latest rollout plan at the Midem music industry conference in Cannes this week.
The 'Music Unlimited powered by Qriocity' catalogue will initially offer about six million songs, with either a basic subscription of £3.99 or Premium subscription of £9.99 per month.
The basic service enables listeners to access the music catalogue without the need to download songs or manage their music. They can use it as an ad-free radio station, with the ability to skip forward through songs to find the music they want to listen to.
If you choose the Premium service, you'll get a one-time, 30-day free trial enabling you to listen to every song on demand in full, create personal playlists of favourites and gain access to Top 100 channels which are regularly updated with the latest hits.
Whichever subscription you choose, the music will be encoded at 48kbps using HE-AAC (High-Efficiency Advanced Audio Coding) to provide a "balance between usability and sound quality", although we're told that other bitrates may be considered in the future to provide customers with options.
Supported by Universal Music, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music and EMI, the service is initially available in the UK and Ireland, and will become available in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, New Zealand and the US in due course.
Users can play music at any time on a range of internet-connected Sony devices, including its 2010 network-enabled Bravia TVs, Blu-ray disc players, Blu-ray home cinema systems, PS3 and Vaio and other personal computers.
"As we continue to expand Qriocity globally, these services 'Powered by Qriocity' offer a single ID log-in and wallet solution, and empower users to easily consume music and video content across a growing number of intergrated devices," says Kazuo Hirai, president of networked products and services, Sony Corporation.
It's interesting to note, though, that while Qriocity music has been enabled on PS3 at the same time as Sony's other devices, the movie service is still surprisingly absent. When asked about this, Sony told us that there's nothing that can be mentioned at this time.
Sony has developed 'Music Unlimited powered by Qriocity' in partnership with Omnifone, a leading provider of cloud-based music services.