Love it or hate it the illegal downloading of music is here and here to stay. Large record companies, distributors and clueless high street music chains continue to complain rather than innovate.
At this stage the debate/issue has been raging for well over a decade yet only now does a middleground seem to be appearing. This middleground has appeared in the form of legal streaming sites with the idea that you stream the music for free and put up with regular adverts inbetween every third song or so OR users subscribe and pay a monthly fee. Either way there is money coming in. Spotify is one of the success stories here but have yet to branch outside of a small number of countries (including the U.K. and Sweden but not Ireland as of yet) due to licensing reasons.
More recently the Eircom Music Hub has gone live with their online library with the idea being that Eircom subscribers receive the basic package free and non-subscribers pay a subscription. The more advanced packages then range from €5.99 to €22.99 per month.
This weeks news is that WE7.ie goes live Monday (January 17th 2011). From Rihanna to Bon Iver, approximately 6.5 million tracks are available for streaming and the service is similar to Spotify i.e. free but with ads or premium with no ads.
WE7 also incorporates the Artist Radio functionality as used by Last.fm and other sites. Basically if you like Wilco you can navigate to the Wilco page, click "Wilco Radio" and bands similar to Wilco, as well as Wilco songs, will play randomly. e.g. I clicked it a second ago and the first three tracks were from Uncle Tupelo, Jeff Tweedy and Whiskeytown i.e. Wilco Radio. As far as I can see with the we7.com verion you can then create your own personal radio with the playlist determined by the artists and albums you have marked as "Love".
An interesting turn of events as I know many music nuts that have been twiddling their thumbs awaiting the green light for Spotify. Let's see how it goes
Full press release is below :
UK music streaming site we7 launches in Ireland next Monday 17th January. we7 is the most accessed music web site by pageviews and delivers music to up to 3 million monthly users in the UK. It was awarded the 2010 Musicweek Consumer Facing Digital Music Service of the Year and normally achieves the #1 spot in Google for the search term 'music'.
we7.ie will feature the very best in music programming including all the biggest international hits across all genres of music, an ever evolving roster of Irish-produced music not available anywhere else, cutting edge tracks from the best independent labels in the world, an enormous back catalogue of classics and rarities and heaps of exclusive Ireland-only previews – a very special exclusive to celebrate the launch of we7.ie will be announced shortly!
Irish music fans will be able to stream and listen to a catalogue of over 6.5 million tracks for free and legally. we7.ie gives music fans the opportunity to control the music they want to hear from all the major labels, thousands of independent labels as well as new unsigned artists. we7's free streaming service, Internet Radio Plus, is funded by advertising revenue, so bands and artists are paid each time their music is played. And what's different about we7 is that it's completely free to everyone in Ireland who has an internet connection, no matter which phone company or internet service provider you are with.
If you don't want to hear the ads, you can choose to subscribe to the monthly Premium Service for €4.99, all the ads will be banished and you can listen to the entire catalogue on your PC. The biggest difference between we7 and other streaming sites is that you can access 6.5 million songs on the move. Those who wish to take their music off their PC and access their playlists on mobile devices such as i-Phones, i-Touch, i-Pads and many android phones and tablets can do so by joining the Premium Plus Service at €9.99 per month. And you don't need a permanent internet connection to do so. Basically, you have access to 6.5 million songs, on demand, at any time at the touch of a button/touch screen!
First came vinyl, then cassette, then CD, then downloads, now streaming is becoming part of everyday music listening life! And because we7 is web based, there's no need to download or install anything on your PC. And if you want to share your playlists with your Facebook friends or tweet a new song you've discovered, you can do so on we7.ie at the click of an icon.
The introduction of we7.ie is great news for new Irish music. The streaming site will be an exceptional promotional platform for new acts, introducing them to massive online audiences both in Ireland and the UK. Subject to reaching monthly listening quotas, bands are paid for plays of their music. The 'we7 presents' section will feature a host of new up and coming Irish acts in the next few months and this means that those acts will be promoted to hundreds of thousands of we7 users across the UK and Ireland. Irish bands who are not signed to record labels should go through aggregators such as AWAL or DITTO to get their tracks added to we7.
Check out a taster playlist from my .com account. .ie going live Monday