Nokia Music Unlimited has been around in India for a while now and the model it followed was that with every purchase of a compatible Nokia handset, you got access to the millions of tracks on the Nokia Store for one year. You were free to download as many tracks as you liked and keep them after the expiry of the one year period, but there was a catch they were DRM protected.
That meant you couldn’t play that music on your other devices, and if you didn’t have a Windows PC, you couldn’t play them on your computer as well. So Mac users were out cold and that was never good. Next problem was that you could only use so many PC’s to download music from, so if you didn’t have WIFI or an unlimited data plan you would again hit a wall.
But all that has changed since last week. Along with the Nokia Asha 200 and Nokia Asha 300 and Nokia X2-02, Nokia announced that its Nokia Music service would be going DRM free. So with each subscription, you can now download as much music as you like, send it to friends, copy it to your other devices and that’s great. For once you have access to unlimited legal music downloads that come with all the metadata and album art intact. For over the air downloads, the tracks will be compressed so that downloads over EDGE will also finish in a minute or two.
Further, unlike the old way of activating the service via a coupon, Nokia Music will come pre activated with each phone. On low cost devices like the Asha series the service will be free for the first three months with the option of renewing the service by paying from the device itself. You will be able to opt for 3 month, 6 month and 12 month packs by paying a fee that hasn’t been revealed yet. Previously you got access for one year and that was it. If you wanted more, you had to get a new Nokia handset.
The beauty of the Nokia Music Unlimited service in India is that in addition to international music, it offers an extensive selection of local music, including some really old tracks that you’ll have a hard time finding anywhere else. Nokia Music Store includes wide-ranging catalogues from major global labels like Sony Music Entertainment and EMI Music and Nokia’s local partnership with Indian Music Industry (a consortium of more than 150 music companies), Hungama that represents major labels including Yash Raj, Tseries, and SIMCA (South Indian Music Companies Association), amongst others. Basically, it’ll have pretty much everything you are looking for. Plus, through things like the Nokia Music Theater, you’ll also find a selection of content from great local artists who haven’t become quite so popular, yet have excellent music.
I have been a huge fan of Nokia Music Unlimited, and the move to DRM free music makes the purchase of a Nokia device an almost no-brainer. For a lot of people Nokia Maps has been a huge motivation for purchasing Nokia devices, but free DRM-free music could easily take over that role. So for consumers who are looking at the best value amongst the competition a combination of free navigation and music will be hard to resist.
The service is limited to the just announced Nokia Asha 200 and Nokia Asha 300 – and Nokia X2-02 for now, but the move to smartphones is a natural progression. Nokia has already said that Nokia Music will be coming to the Lumia devices in Q1 next year and you can be pretty sure it’ll come with DRM-free music.
One feature request I have is that Nokia offer higher quality downloads over the air in addition to the compressed versions that are currently available. If I have a 3G plan, or am on WIFI, I shouldn’t be forced to download the compressed track. Additionally, high bitrate versions should be available for download on Macs as well.
People want to pay for music, but the pay per album or track model would not be successful in India and its great to see a service that offers them a way around it. If Nokia can keep the renewal price of its Nokia Music service reasonable, I’m sure a lot of people will only be too happy to ditch songs.pk!