MidemNet 2008: Sony Ericsson reveals more about PlayNow Arena music service

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sony-ericsson-playnow-arena.jpgWe’ve written about Sony Ericsson’s plans to take on iTunes with its PlayNow Arena service – the company announced them last November. However, it’s been giving more details at this year’s MidemNet music industry conference in Cannes, including the names of the record labels who’ve already signed up.

When it launches in the first half of this year, PlayNow Arena will have a catalogue of more than five million tracks from ten labels. They include three of the four major labels – Sony BMG, Warner Music Group and EMI – but puzzlingly not Universal Music Group, despite Sony Ericsson claiming in November that it had all four majors signed up.

The other six who ARE listed in Sony Ericsson’s new announcement are The Orchard, IODA, The PocketGroup, Hungama, X5 Music, Bonnier Amigo and VidZone – with the first two being the digital distributors for a host of independent labels. PlayNow Arena will launch in Scandinavia this May, before rolling out elsewhere in Europe over the rest of the year.

Meanwhile, Sony Ericsson has also rebranded its M-BUZZ service as PlayNow Uncut. It’ll still focus on emerging and unsigned bands though, offering streaming songs, videos, artwork, interviews and other information. Meanwhile, the most popular artists on PlayNow Uncut will have their tracks sold on the main PlayNow Arena too.

Finally, Sony Ericsson also dished some statistics on its TrackID application, which lets people identify songs from their handset in a Shazam-style way. Apparently the application is getting more than 200,000 hits a day, and has doubled its usage in the last three months.

Sony Ericsson is keen to talk up the way users will be able to use TrackID to identify songs playing in a bar or club, and then click through to buy them from PlayNow Arena. That’s convergent synergy in action for you. Or synergistic convergence. Or something.

Sony Ericsson website

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Stuart Dredge