Microsoft to launch free music streaming service in July


Yesterday was a big day for Microsoft. Office 2010 went into trials, they announced a suite of free cloud based applications to rival Google Docs, Zoho et al and the sneaky one that no one was expecting was the launch of a music streaming service to take on Spotify too. I’m surprised they didn’t launch their own social networks to go after Twitter and Facebook.

It’s not clear, as yet, as to how large the catalogue will be or quite how many ads, if any at all, we’ll have to put up with. What has been indicated in an interview with the Telegraph is that you’ll also be able to pay to download the tracks, much like 7Digital do for Spotify, and that the service will link in with the Xbox 360.

They’ll be more details within days, no doubt, as the service is set to launch by the end of the month. Now, why do I have a nagging feeling that Microsoft are going to throttle the whole operation somehow and actually make it rubbish?

Orange Music Store goes DRM-free with 79p music buffet


DRM-free is becoming all the rage, as well it should, and today Orange is the latest portal provider to jump on the digital music band wagon. So far they’ve persuaded EMI, Universal and ” a number of independent labels” to offer up their tracks and doubtless the other two majors will follow at some point.

For now, there’s 700,000 tracks to chose from which you can download over the air or to your PC and do with as you will. You’ll only pay the once and prices start at an iTunes sounding 79p.

You can start your downloading from today and it’ll be interesting to see how this sits alongside services which Orange supports like the DRM-heavy Nokia Comes With Music. Still, always nice to have more options.

Orange (via @recombu)

95% of music downloads in 2008 were illegal, says IFPI


The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, or IFPI, is basically an international version of the RIAA and BPI, who claim to act as a trade body for record labels, but seem to only exist in reality to head up the music industry’s anti-piracy campaign. True to that role, last night it released a statement claiming that 95% of music downloads in 2008 were illegal.

However, there’s some bright news for the labels hidden in there too – download sales are up 25% on last year, and now make up a fifth of all recorded music sales. The IFPI reckons that it’s worth £2.5 billion.

Vodafone UK launches "Vodafone Music" – it's a bit like iTunes


Vodafone has announced that is new “Vodafone Music” service is now live in the UK, allowing its mobile customers to buy and download songs from the Vodafone live! Music Shop.

The service features a new user-friendly interface which includes a smart search allowing users to find music based on track name, artist, album, or genre; free 30-second previews of songs, album art, and improved charts listing new releases and top downloads…