In the US, some of the biggest tech buzz of the year has been generated by Spotify, an online music service that lets you stream an unlimited amount of songs via the internet each month, for a set fee, rather than buy tracks or albums individually on the iTunes model.
Last month, a similar service was launched in Australia, called Bandit.fm.
Now, Bandit.fm is set to migrate across the Tasman with a New Zealand launch set for late November.
The new service will let you stream (that is, play but not save) an unlimited number of songs each month for $9.95, payable in advance by credit card.
Old school too
Bandit.fm will also offer a more traditional, iTunes-style service that will let you buy individual songs, albums and videos to download and keep.
Sony Music Australia digital and brand development GM Gavin Parry told NBR that Bandit.fm NZ will likely sell most singles for $1.79, and albums for $17.99 (that is, it'll track iTunes pricing). Back-catalogue material will usually be cheaper.
Users of TiVo (launching November 6) will get free access to a selection of Bandit.fm songs and music videos.
Get onto my cloud
Bandit.fm is run by Sony, but also includes tracks from the other three major multi-national music labels: Universal Music, EMI and Warner Music.
Mr Parry, in Auckland yesterday for the TiVo launch, described Bandit.fm's $9.95 a month streaming option as a “cloud music service”. Where-ever you are, and whatever PC or MP3-compatible music player you happen to be using, you can access your favourite playlists, or any song, from bandit.fm.
Getting the other major labels onboard had been tricky, but now they’re on the same team, Bandit.fm is lining up independents, with the first batch due to be announced shortly.
1 million songs
The service will launch in New Zealand with 1 million songs, which will be boosted to around 4 million with an upgrade planned for the second quarter of next year.
iTunes New Zealand offers around nine million songs, plus a narrower selection of video, movie and TV content.
Vodafone New Zealand already offers a DRM-free music service on a similar rental model, offering unlimited songs for $2.50 a week.
iPod-compatible, no DRM
Bandit.fm tracks are billed as compatible with Macs and PCs, as well as iPods and other MP3 players. There is no digital rights management, or copy-protection of songs.
Songs are offered at 256 or 320kbps audio resolution - that is, matching iTunes' level of compression and audio quality.