Sony said Wednesday it has launched an online streaming music service in the U.K. and Ireland, reports the Wall Street Journal.
In their bid to tussle with Apple in the online music business, Sony’s new subscription-based music service, called “Music Unlimited,” is scheduled to hit other major markets like Australia, Canada, Italy, France and the U.S. next year.
The Music Unlimited venture, powered by Qriocity, opens with a catalog of six million songs courtesy the Big Four major record labels.
Those looking to try out the new service will need a Sony product because Music Unlimited will work on only Sony products for the next few years – think Blu-ray Disc player or a PlayStation 3 games console.
This Sony Only approach could change in the future, Kazuo Hirai, the president of Sony’s network products and services group, told reporters in Tokyo.
Hirai also said Sony is looking to add video to the streaming service down the road.
“We realized that if we were playing catch up with the same (iTunes) model, it would be difficult to appeal to users,” said Hirai.
He added: “But over time, it needs to stand on its own.”
There are two streaming services available for Music Unlimited: a basic plan offers plenty of ad-free channels of music, and a premium service features on-demand access to all songs in the library.
The basic plan comes with a monthly cost of £3.99 (US$6.18) or €3.99 ($5.25). The premium service cost £9.99 or €9.99 per month.
Users are also able to link up their iTunes collection into Music Unlimited and listen to those songs via a Sony device.
Omnifone, a provider of cloud-based unlimited music services, was contracted by Sony to coordinate content licensing, development and delivery of Music Unlimited.