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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 May 2006, 06:53 GMT 07:53 UK
MTV targets music download market
MTV's new download service Urge
The digital music market is growing and analysts see strong demand
MTV, the television company that is credited with popularising music videos, is turning its attention to the online and digital download market.

Its music service Urge will offer users 2 million songs from Wednesday that can be bought either separately for $0.99 (0.53) or via a monthly subscription.

The service will be the featured music player on Microsoft's Media Player.

Urge will be compatible with more than 100 digital music players but not with the market leader, Apple's iPod.

'Well-recognised brand'

"We will concentrate on people who don't have iPods," said Van Toffler, president of MTV Networks Music Group.

"Hopefully, through the TV channels we have and the dot-com sites...we can educate people about the virtues of subscriptions. It's not about selling a million singles," he added.

"Only 5% of music is sold digitally. We are just getting going."

Urge will offer users albums at about $9.95, and unlimited music downloads at two monthly rates of $9.95 and $14.95 (the higher price allowing unlimited transfers to portable players). The service also plans to offer video downloads.

Analysts had a mixed response to the plans, and said that the market already was crowded with well-established rivals such as Napster.

"The thing that works to their advantage is they have a well-recognized brand that is popular to a demographic that is going to be receptive to purchasing digital music," said Phil Leigh, an analyst at Inside Digital Media.

However, entertainment industry attorney and author Steve Gordon asked "whether the consumer really wants a service that's only compatible with non-iPod players".

The Apple iTunes service has a library of 3 million tunes and users have downloaded more than 1bn songs since it was launched in 2003.

The iPod, launched in 2001, has sold more than 50m units, and last year Apple launched a video version of the portable music player.

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