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Vodacom launches music downloads service

Mobile music company Omnifone, announced today, Thursday, 1 November 2007, that its unlimited music downloads service MusicStation will launch commercially in South Africa through Vodafone-affiliate network Vodacom by 1 December. Consumers will have access to over a million tracks from Universal Music Group, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, EMI Music and Warner Music Group and independent labels on new and existing Nokia and Sony Ericsson handsets.
“Partnering with the largest and most advanced mobile network operator in South Africa means we can bring affordable digital music to millions of South Africans for the first time in history. With no iTunes store, low levels of computer ownership and limited broadband penetration, accessing legal digital music has been almost impossible in South Africa. MusicStation enables consumers in South Africa who subscribe to have the freedom to download and play whatever music they want, wherever they are, direct to their cellphone and all for a fixed fee,” said Warren Carley, commercial director of Omnifone.

Rob Wells, SVP, digital, Universal Music Group International, added, “South Africa has the opportunity to leapfrog many European countries in digital music distribution by unleashing what is the most compelling music experience on mobile today to people who have had no way to purchase digital music apart from on CD. Millions of people across South Africa will have the opportunity to access all the music they could ever want, not from a computer, which they may not have access to, but from their cellphone that is already in their pocket every day.”

Download, play and share

MusicStation users can download, play and share music recommendations without the need for a PC, credit card or broadband connection as all downloads are carried out directly to their compatible cellphone. Customers can discover and download any new music risk-free at any time, enabling legitimate and effective music discovery during the period of their subscription.

Downloaded MusicStation tracks and user playlists are stored centrally so that if a Vodacom customer's mobile is stolen, lost or upgraded, the replacement handset will automatically restore the customer's music, playlists, friends and preferences the first time MusicStation is switched on.

MusicStation also features live charts, a personalised music news service and a music-based social network community capability which enables users to make friends, build and share playlists and music recommendations with other MusicStation users.

MusicStation will provide users unlimited access, when subscribed, to a vast catalogue of music from all the major record labels. Universal Music Group, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, EMI Music and Warner Music Group, as well as leading independents, will make their international and local digital music catalogues available to MusicStation users in SA as part of international licensing agreements with Omnifone.

Barney Wragg, global head of digital for EMI Music, said: "This is an important stage in the digital development of the region and we hope this will prove very attractive to consumers."

Pete Downton, VP, business development and strategic partnerships, Warner Music International, said, "The potential for mobile music in South Africa is extremely exciting, as it provides many people with the first meaningful alternative to purchasing CDs. MusicStation will be putting our content within the reach of millions of new consumers that have never had legal access to it before."

Local editorial team

MusicStation will be supported by a local Omnifone editorial team based in SA providing full editorial support for localised music news and content, a key characteristic of every MusicStation rollout.

Robin Bloor, international IT analyst with Bloor Research said, “The digital music market in South Africa is largely undeveloped; with no iTunes store in South Africa, iPod users have no legal method of accessing digital music other than by sideloading copied music. By international standards broadband penetration and computer ownership rates are very low across the region. The only digital device virtually all South Africans use every day is a mobile phone. Introducing MusicStation will create a completely new channel for legal music distribution, discovery and consumption across the region. This will create new revenue streams for the music and mobile industries and a mass market digital music service for consumers.”

MusicStation is already live on the Telenor network in Sweden and the 3 network in Hong Kong. Vodafone recently announced that MusicStation would go live in the UK during November 2007.

Omnifone has established partnerships with 26 other mobile phone network partners in countries that include: Australia, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland and Turkey.
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