Dot Music, One Small Step?

BT today officially launched their OD2 powered online music subscription service Dot Music One Demand, which is pretty much the most comprehensive and compelling legitimate offering in the European market. BT have invested heavily in the site since buying it a year ago and that perhaps is why Dot Music will be able to survive initially sluggish uptake: the deep pockets of BT will essentially sustain Dot Music primarily as customer acquisition and retention tool for its broadband services.

BPI Peter Jamieson was on hand at the launch to give the service his unequivocal support and endorsement. He gave a solid and fair appraisal of Dot Music and identified that Dot Music is but a “building block” towards defining the digital distribution model. A key reason for it only being a “building block” is that the nature of the major label licenses granted to its content provider OD2 are still too restrictive and limited to allow the service to compete on anything close to an even footing with the likes of Kazaa.

Services such as Dot Music really need to be able to allow far greater CD burning and portability, in short: to allow ownership. However the service might be positioned, it is still effectively a rental model, which is not how most people approach music.

But, the usual complaints aside, this is a decent service with some really solid features. The community aspects (play lists, dynamic download charts, forums etc) combined with fully integrated, compelling editorial content, really give Dot Music something that the illegal sector simply can’t offer. This is definitely a huge step in the right direction and one that should have the longevity and resources to evolve due to BT’s backing.

It was also encouraging to hear Peter Jamieson taking such a positive and enthusiastic view about digital distribution. Although Mr Jamieson is not the person signing licenses he does, to some degree, speak on behalf of the majors and he pointedly steered clear of focusing on the negatives of piracy, instead emphasising the potential of the legitimate services. This is exactly the attitude which needs to pervade the industry, i.e. adopting a multi-pronged approach that, yes, tackles piracy and educates consumers but also proactively helps develop compelling legitimate services.

Dot Music: a small step for BT but a huge leap for Europe’s legitimate online music market? Time will tell.

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