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dab digital radio

CLIQ Music Downloads via DAB Digital Radio

UBC are launching their CLIQ Music Download service this evening in London. I was hoping to attend, but ended up at the wrong end of the M4.

CLIQ has been in trial for a while with Chrysalis on their Heart 100.7 station in Birmingham. The USP is that CLIQ can download (using DAB data capacity) a DRM-protected file of the song currently playing, which means it can be purchased simply by downloading a (small) licence. It’s positioned as being a simple to use music download service, where you just click the button to buy the song. Indeed, the core idea is the same as Hear It Buy It Burn It which has been running on a number of GCap Media stations for some years.

PURE Digital are supporting CLIQ with the launch of a DAB/WiFI Radio that will feature the service, and they will share a proportion of the revenues of the CLIQ service.

It’s good to see people creating applications that make use of the broadcast nature of DAB Digital Radio data, but I’m not sure that this one will stack up commercially. It’s quite expensive (and difficult) to get hold of data capacity on DAB, and this service is having to speculatively send some quite large binary files out to receivers in the hope that people will buy each song enough to warrant its broadcast. I suspect that the cost of distribution might outweigh the profit from the sales. (There is a “Lite” version where the meta-data of the song is transmitted, and the song download is to your PC, and a Java Applet which runs on a mobile phone and doesn’t use DAB at all).

The requirement is for a back-channel to complete the purchase and deliver the licence means that the device either needs to be tied to the Internet (WiFI) or needs a GSM module. If you’ve got IP connectivity then you have access to a plethora of competitive music services. In particular, mobile phone networks’ own music download services are very competitively priced, which trims the margins available to wafer thin. Any share of nothing is still nothing.

DAB data is tremendously powerful, but its broadcast characteristics means that it’s best suited to applications that have wide audiences and relatively lightweight content. It will be interesting to see how Channel 4’s proposals to use DAB data differ (or otherwise) from the CLIQ model, if they win the second national multiplex licence.

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