Virgin Group Ltd. will shut down its online music subscription and download service in the U.S. and U.K. next month, leaving one less competitor for Apple Inc.’s iTunes Music Store.
In the U.K., Virgin Digital stopped selling tracks last Friday, and is no longer accepting new customers. As of Friday, only existing customers will be able to access the service, and the site will shut down for good on Oct. 19.
The U.K. version of the site said users with more than one month of outstanding subscriptions will get a refund, but unused credits for song downloads should be used and won’t be refunded. U.S. users of Virgin Digital will be able to use their credit on Napster LLC’s music download service.
The pending demise of Virgin Digital marks another casualty among online music stores, which have generally received lukewarm reception from consumers with the exception of Apple’s market-leading iTunes service.
Since Virgin Digital used digital rights management (DRM) technology from Microsoft Corp. to manage how songs could be played and transferred to portable devices, the service was not compatible with Apple’s iPod line, which uses different DRM technology and file format.
The Virgin Digital service allows customers to download tracks up to four more times to replace lost or damaged copies. Since that option will no longer be available when the store closes, the company advised customers who purchased tracks to back them up by burning the songs to a CD. Burning the tracks will let those customers re-import the tracks to the computer as MP3 files.
Virgin, Online Music, Digital Music, Digital Service, Digital Media, DRM