Page last updated at 09:47 GMT, Monday, 12 October 2009 10:47 UK

Sky offers digital music service

Sky Songs screen shot
Sky Songs will launch on 19 October

Satellite broadcaster Sky is to launch an online music service as it goes head to head with Apple's iTunes.

Sky Songs will offer customers access to more than four million music tracks for download and streaming.

It will include new releases and back catalogues from all four major music labels as well as tracks from independent labels.

Unlike iTunes, users won't be able to buy individual tracks but can choose from several subscription packages.

For £6.49 a month, users can download one "£6.49 album" or ten individual songs and stream as much music as they want for one month.

For £7.99, users can download a "£7.99" album or 15 songs and have the same access to streamed music.

"Sky Songs will reach out to consumers who want legitimate digital services offering choice, ease of use and great value. Offering legal access to digital music is a vital step in combating illegal downloading," Mike Darcey, Sky's chief operating officer, said in a statement.

The fact that users do not have to commit to a year's contract but can "dip in and out" could attract users, said Mark Mulligan, an analyst with Forrester Research.

"It isn't going to suddenly make downloads successful but Sky is very good at educating people about subscriptions," he said.

If Sky's long-term strategy is to build the service, currently available only via a PC, into set-top boxes and other hardware, it could make it a bigger hit, he added.

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