Beyond Oblivion – beyond the digital download ??

I sadly missed a tweet (or trick yesterday) on another interesting twist in the whole music download saga. Indeed, if you were preocupied with the Spotify announcement which was big news in itself, this may well have passed you by.

So, if you also missed it, News Corp has made an interesting, if surprising, investment in a digital music start-up company whose stated aim is ” shifting the burden for paying for music to device manufacturers and broadband providers, giving consumers free, legal access to an unlimited number of tracks.”

Let the cheering commence amongst all digital downloaders – but hang on, this must live in the land of ‘too good to be true’ right – whats the catch

Well, according to Beyond Oblivion’s founder Adam Kidron, there isn’t one. Content is essentially ‘licensed’ to devices and services from which unlimited access is provided thus making the actual cost “pretty much invisible to the customer”. Beyond claim this approach will will stimulate the device sales and they will also tier their charges based on the device and market types (presumably a smartphone is cheaper than a PC and South America is cheaper than Europe). The Beyond system can also create protected versions of any file already on a customers device and in a surprising statement “essentially legalise pirated tracks wit the rights owners”. “There is no illegal music in the Beyond world because we pay royalties no matter what its source,” Mr Kidron said.

Beyond will pay monthly royalties from its licence revenue based on the number of times tracks have been played with guaranteed minimums for the record companies and maximum caps to avoid unexpected usage spikes.

Beyond told the Financial Times they “expected to pay out well over $100m in royalties to music companies within five years, but believed it was ultimately possible, via its potential agreements with device manufacturers and the music industry, to add $10bn or more to last year’s global digital music revenues of $3.7bn.”

So this is kinda like pay per use but not quite …. frankly it all sounds a bit confusing and I’m never entirely convinced by claims to make price “virtually invisible” but its clearly a market move to keep an eye on.

What d’ya think ?