Internet

RioPort, U.K. label try subscriptions for music downloads

Ministry of Sound is partnering with RioPort.com to test a new business model for digital music, charging a monthly subscription fee for unlimited free downloads from its site.

U.K. record label Ministry of Sound said it is partnering with RioPort.com to test a new business model for digital music, charging a monthly subscription fee for unlimited free downloads from its site.

The service will make about 100 tracks from leading dance labels available for download when it goes live, which is expected at the end of April, according to a release. The companies did not disclose how much the service will cost.

Analysts said many online music companies are considering subscriptions to entice consumers to pay for Internet content that is widely available for free, although the model is still largely unproven, and few have actually started charging fees.

"I think this is something we're going to see a lot more of in the next few months," said Malcolm Maclachlan, an analyst with International Data Corp. "But it probably won't be a huge moneymaker on its own. The price has to be right, and people are used to getting music for nothing so far."

Ministry of Sound started as a dance club in the United Kingdom and has since branched into recording dance compilations.

The deal will offer a Ministry of Sound-branded version of RioPort's software for storing and managing tracks downloaded from its site. Tracks will be formatted in the secure Windows Media Format, which uses the Microsoft Media Rights Manager DRM Solution.

"The strength of our subscription model lies in our ability to deliver popular content never before available for download to consumers in an easy, affordable and secure manner," J.D. Heilprin, executive vice president of RioPort, said in a statement.