Sony launches cloud-based music service

Sony has launched Music Unlimited, a cloud-based music service that it thinks will rival Apple’s highly-successful iTunes.

The service will work somewhat differently to iTunes in that users won’t be downloading their songs to their computer, but rather streaming them from Sony’s cloud servers. People can therefore access music from any internet-capable device anywhere in the world.

A single monthly subscription will give music lovers access to some six million songs from major record labels, including Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and EMI. A number of smaller, independent labels will also be supplying to the service and the number of available songs in the catalogue is expected to increase over time.

Sony partnered with Omnifone to work on Music Unlimited, utilising Omnifone’s previous experience as a cloud-based music service. Since Omnifone already had licensing contracts with the four main record labels that saved Sony some legwork in that department too.

Music Unlimited is “powered by Qriocity”, a streaming video on demand service it launched in the US in April of this year. That service has since expanded to other regions throughout the world and makes up the backbone technology behind Sony’s new music offering. Those who have a Qriocity account can use that to log into Music Unlimited, giving a single log-in for both music and movies.

The service is now available in the UK and Ireland, but expansion to the US, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Australia and New Zealand will follow in 2011.