Virgin Digital's Deceptive Advertising



Q: Why would I want to be a member of the club? A: The real questions is this: why wouldn’t you? Total access to over a million tracks for only $7.99 a month!

The Digital Music Club is a single, flat-price of $7.99 a month. In addition to making you cool, your Club membership grants you full access to our enormous music library. You can stream and download tracks to your heart’s delight. There are no hidden fees or charges in the Club. If you want to play Britney Spears’ Oops, I did it Again non-stop for an entire month, it is $7.99. While you may need some serious help at the end of the month, your membership still costs the same.

The company even makes available a list of players that support the transfer of tracks so you can listen on the go.

But what they don’t tell you is that their definition of “total access” means something entirely different than yours and mine. In this case, “total access” means you can listen and/or download and listen to an unlimited number of tracks on the computer of your choice.

The implication is that the service allows you to transfer those tracks to your personal player to listen on the go. But if you examine the license Virgin assigns to you, it quickly becomes apparent it just isn’t so. Virgin’s licenses for their “digital music club” specify you cannot synchronize the tracks you receive from the service. That means you cannot transfer them to a personal MP3/WMA player.

What Virgin leaves out is that you can obtain synchronization rights, but only if you purchase each track at around 99c each. So much for “total access” and “no hidden fees.” This means Virgin Digital’s $8.00 plan basically only includes streaming and restricted file downloading. If you wish to take the tracks on the go for one low rate, you’ll have to shop somewhere else.

It’s marketing campaigns like this coupled with confusing and expensive DRM “solutions” requiring new players that drives people to piracy or stripping off DRM altogether. This is precisely why people will continue to find workarounds.

Virgin - provide a fair price and easy access and people won’t bother to circumvent DRM. Tell people they can’t do this, that, and the other thing, and they’ll always find a way to do it.


Virgin has made it clear that they don’t care about their customers…

Oh well… how is the quality of their tracks?.. If it’s above 128kbps I might recommend the service anyway… you can still always re-encode the WMA’s to good old MP3.


The tracks are identical to every MusicNet client. They all share the same library - just the interface is different. Most are 128k encoded.

BTW, Virgin plans to introduce a portable on the go plan soon… too bad Yahoo already priced them out of the market.


Is it still 128k? I heard MusicNet change it to 192k, if so, it’ll sound much better.