BT, the UK’s largest ISP, has followed rivals BSkyB and Virgin Media with plans to launch a music subscription service to address the Government’s Digital Britain proposals to end piracy.
BT is in early discussions with executives at the four major record labels about deals to provide tracks for a legal music subscription service.
One idea thought to be under consideration is the launch of a cross-platform service accessed via the internet and IPTV service BT Vision.
It comes as rival ISP Sky has reached agreements with EMI and Sony Music for its own music-streaming subscription service. It already has a partnership with Universal, established in July 2008, while a spokesman for Warner Music confirmed it was in talks with Sky, which has 2.2m broadband subscribers.
Rob Wells, digital senior VP at Universal, said the launch of Sky’s music service was “imminent”, with a senior Sony music source anticipating a launch this month.
A Sky spokesman confirmed testing was underway but denied a launch date had been set.
A music subscription service from BT, which has substantial reach with 4.8m subscribers, would be a major shot in the arm for the crackdown on piracy, which the Government aims to reduce by 70% within two years.
As part of the Digital Britain report, released in June, the Government encouraged ISPs to establish legal alternatives to file sharing.
A June report by Entertainment Media Research and media lawyers Wiggin found that 43% of people would be willing to pay £2 a month on top of their ISP bill to access a music streaming service.