At a press conference earlier today, Verizon announced V Cast Music, its brand-new mobile music on-demand service. Users can download songs either into their PC at 99 cents a song or over the air into their phone at $1.99 a song. Songs downloaded over the air will also be simultaneously downloaded into the user's PC. This is a lot more affordable compared with the $2.50 Sprint charges for its over-the-air songs, plus Sprint does not yet offer the dual-download capability.
The V Cast Music store also marks the first mobile music service powered by Windows. All songs utilize Windows DRM and are in the WMA format. Additionally, Microsoft has developed a new audio codec, called enhanced WMA Pro, specifically for Verizon's V Cast Music store. The new codec allows for a much smaller file size, which will facilitate faster over-the-air downloads. Songs downloaded straight into the PC will still be in regular WMA format; they can then be transferred to your phone via USB. Users will also be able to transfer over music from their existing collection into the phone, as long as it's in the WMA and MP3 format. Storage on the phone is limited only to the size of the memory card. SanDisk will announce a 2GB Mini SD card today, and plans for a 4GB card later this year are underway, so that allows for a lot more storage space. It remains to be seen if the cards will be affordable, however.
The featured phones for the V Cast Music store are the LG VX8100 and the Samsung a950, though several other V Cast Music-enabled phones will be available at launch. From the preliminary demo of the V Cast Music store, we noticed that you can manage your personal library, as well as get album art as part of the download. We're not sure if you can use the songs as ring tones or ring-back tones right now, though we're hoping that will be the case.
At launch, there will be half a million songs available. Verizon has partnered with major labels such as EMI and Universal, as well as The Orchard, a distributor of independent music. There will also be exclusive V Cast content, such as live performances from Yellowcard and Maroon 5, here at CES. The music store will go live on January 16.