This is a small revolution in the uncertain world of online music that is poised to launch Neuf Cegetel: for 29.90 euros per month, the second French Internet access provider's customers will not only have access to its triple offer (Internet-TV-telephone), but they will increasingly have the possibility to download unlimited songs from Universal Music catalog. This new offer is clearly displayed in the Neuf Cegetel advertising inserted in the catalogue of re-entry of the Auchan stores under the name of "The music box", as indicated last weekend 01net site... Its launch in fanfare should be officially announced this week to the re-entry.
Evidence that the online music market is evolving and that he is always looking for the miracle formula will help offset the decline in CD sales, "The music box" is highly innovative in its design. It is the first time that a user can download and not listening to music streamed titles without extra cost compared to package its initial. Des offers unlimited download already exist like MusicMe to 14.99 euros per month, but never an ISP (Internet service provider) had dared to integrate in its base package.
Distortion of competition
This is not yet the cave of Ali Baba to scope of click for music fans: Neuf Cegetel will only propose Universal Music references, certainly the greatest House in France. In addition, the 3 million subscribers to offer "triple play" of Neuf Cegetel will have access to a single derived type of catalogue Universal Music, of the proposed nine: rap or classic, French variety, the "world"... Titles can be transferred to 3 personal computers as well as digital music players. If they want to have access to all of the catalog (including music videos), subscribers will have to pay 5 per month. A kind of global wide license to Universal Music, but with a size limit: title will be protected by a DRM technical protection measures and the effect will be radical for unsubscribing to the Neuf Cegetel offers: the loss of all the previously downloaded titles... In financial terms, the terms of this exclusive agreement are unknown.
Irony of history: whereas Universal Music has announced ten days ago the launch of tests on a large scale in the United States for the sale of music without DRM, they are, on the contrary, in the heart of the operation initiated with Neuf Cegetel. Indeed, without DRM, it is impossible to propose such an offer, since a user would have to subscribe a month or two to download the whole catalogue, prior to terminate its membership.
But this operation also raises concerns about a possible vertical merger, where Universal Music and Neuf Cegetel share a common shareholder, Vivendi. The major of the disk is a 100 subsidiary of the French media and telecommunications group, itself shareholder at 56 of SFR, which holds 40 of Neuf Cegetel. To the extent that Universal Music is far away, the first actor of the disk in France with a market share of 37 in 2006, this exclusivity agreement night competition "When a parent has a dominant position signs exclusive with one of its subsidiaries, it always opens the door to a distortion of competition", note in a telecom operator. At a time where of multiple voices for the promotion of a broad and diversified legal offer open to all, exclusive deals have bad press. For its part, Neuf Cegetel indicates negotiated an exclusivity of six months with Universal Music. After this period, the ISP could open its offer to other producers.