back to article HMV takes on mighty iTunes with 40p promo

HMV has a new music download site and lots of offers to tempt punters away from iTunes. The UK music retailer kicks off hmvdigital today by selling any song in the top 40 for 40p a pop. Chart albums are retailing for as little as £4.99. The service has some 10 million DRM-free MP3 songs in its catalogue - and users can …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    There's very little in the top 40 that they could persuade me to download if they PAID me 40p a pop...

    Much of the music I listen to isn't available via a legal download (too obscure for most) and is often available only as a small/limited production run of the CD. So once that has sold out, the only option is to pay a silly price for a 2nd hand version (and who gets the profit there? Neither the record company or the Artist) or to try an "alternative" source.

  2. Lionel Baden

    why ??

    i can still get free music from spotify !

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The whole purchase/download is as dead as print

      I agree.

      Streaming will be the way forward.

      Say bye to CD | DVD | Blu-Ray, by 2020 it's gone.

      1. thesykes


        you can choose your tracks you want, and get the streaming without any problems whilst driving? On the beach in Spain? Up a mountain in Wales? Ummm.... bet a £5 MP3 player works in those locations.....

        And, as for streaming HD video... epic fail unless you think those of us that don't live next door to a BT exchange and get nowhere near 2 meg, let alone 20meg, download speeds, will happily wait 3 weeks for a film to download.

        1. Lionel Baden

          means to a purpose

          i agree it will take a while before its possible to stream everywhere

          But guess what !!!!

          they have an Offline version that is still much cheaper than buying it !!!!!!

          So i return your icon for you to eat !!!

  3. jeffo


    Looks very similar to 7digital...

  4. ByeLaw101

    Bit rate?

    Soooo... whats the bit rate then?

    1. Malcolm 1

      320kbps or 256kbps

      As it's the 7digital catalog most of the music is in 320kbps MP3 format, with some (Warner artists I think) in 256kbps. Some you also have AAC as an option but practically none is available in FLAC sadly.

  5. Malcolm 1
    Thumb Up

    7digital in drag

    The HMV brand colours don't really lend themselves to an attractive website do they? Think I'll stick to 7digital for the time being (seeing as they provide the backend to hmvdigital anyway).

    But more, reasonably priced, DRM free, retailers are always welcome. Now all we need is better provision of higher quality lossless formats.

  6. EvilGav 1

    And yet . . .

    . . . it still suffers the same problem as iTunes.

    After a quick scan through half a dozen or so titles (albums, not tracks), it was always cheaper to buy the CD rather than pay for the tracks via download. The only exception was the Feeder album Renegades, which is the same price as a CD as download.

    Why buy an inferior version for more money ??

  7. Ben XO

    Why, god, why bother?

    I haven't figured out the point.

    "10 million tracks" is not a lot in terms of absolute catalogue. It'll be all the same (popular) content as every other MP3 store, only less of it, as their deals settle in to line. 7digital and iTunes, and even Amazon MP3, have way way more - and still don't cater effectively to the long tail, who has to go to smaller stores such as Beatport or DJDownload to get what they need.

    Even then, there's really no point without an effective referral scheme and integration with music discovery websites such as or Spotify, where people go to FIND new music.

    HMV should have done this ten years ago, or invested in someone who knows what they're doing, like 7digital.

  8. Ben XO


    I jumped the gun. Turns out they did invest in 7digital after all. A wise move for a company who's primary asset is now their brand, not their stock.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    £4 for the latest Gorillaz album. That's pretty damn sweet actually. (vs £4.50 on Amazon.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      £0.00 from piratebay

      Even sweeter!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      and ...

      vs £5 on iTunes and £8 on 7Digital...

  10. Anonymous Coward



    "What determines the price of tracks/albums?

    For every download we sell, hmvdigital pays royalties to the record companies that supply (or “license”) the audio to us, and also to any songwriters involved. The price of each download will be determined by the prices these companies charge us. Where an album is at a lower price, this normally means that the price that we pay to the supplier is also lower. "

    So hmvdigital pay royalties to the record company & the songwriters; who pays the performers?

    1. Christopher W
      Paris Hilton

      Royalties, royalties, royalties

      There's several sets of royalties in music. Performance, publication, songwriter, phonogram... PPL handles the live stuff, MCPS-PRS alliance handles songwriter and mechanical. In order for singles to chart on the OCC Top 40, there MUST be a minimum royalty paid which exceeds HMV's selling price in this promo - they're effectively swallowing the loss and marking it down on the launch campaign budget. A wise move IMO.

      The artists will still be paid, eventually - minus the collection agencies' percentages of course... (Cynical? Moi?)

      Also, HMV Digital has a Canadian site because they operate a nationwide business over there. The HMV brand has always been strong in Canada - it's been their number 1 territory for a long time. Go to Google Maps and search for HMV stores in Canada... There's hundreds of the things!

      Paris, coz she thinks she's royalty (and constantly gets screwed)

  11. SonnyJimm


    still MP3s only, when will they provide lossless audio formats so that we are buying audio of the same quality as the CD?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

      Actually, at that kind of bitrate you are getting pretty much the exact same quality as a CD.

      Let the flames begin

    2. David Evans


      ...the music industry won't licence lossless formats.

  12. Chimpofdoom!

    No thanks..

    I would rather have a legal place to get DRM free TV series!

    Don't get me wrong.. itunes is ok.. but the fact that I can't watch TV series that I paid for, on my xbox 360 is rather annoying.. stupid DRM

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Wouldn't buy anything from Top40 if they paid -me-

    Everything _not_ in the Top40 is still at the same price as itunes, no lossless format and like other have noted they pretty much just cater to mainstream music listeners. Anything relatively obscure, or not crap/mainstream is not there.

    If I were a business I'd look into giving the customers, or potential customers, what they want. More of the same shit doesn't excite me much.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    compete on quality instead of price

    As mentioned already by various commentards, I'd rather see them compete on quality (i.e. offering lossless downloads) than rock bottom prices. Considering that most downloads are one-off songs how appealing can it be to save 20p on a song?

    Well... never mind... I guess they don't want my money... I'll find other ways to spend it....

  15. nemo20000

    When you say "A-ha", who could you mean?

    Their search algorithm could do with some TLC. Search for A-ha.

  16. Alpha Tony

    'any song in the top 40 for 40p'

    but how much for decent music?

  17. Ian Ferguson


    Why should I pay the record megabiz pennies for a high quality DRM-free downloadable track, just like we've all been asking for for years, when I can download a dodgy copy for FREE?!

    I'm telling you, until they provide perfect quality (analogue, not digital) 5.1 songs covering the entire back catalogue of every obscure unsigned band that has ever lived as a free instant download - no, scratch that, I want the ACTUAL BAND in my living room on demand - I'm not paying them a penny!

    HMV are DOOMED until they realise their business model is broken, and they can only survive by handing out free CDs of Linux and open-sourcing their stores.

  18. Alpha Centauri
    Thumb Down

    Still too expensive

    I'll buy more mp3s when the price is a half or a third of CDs. A quick look at hmvdigital shows the mp3 album prices are still not much less, or --ridiculously-- even *more* than the same albums in CD format (and HMV doesn't charge postage for CDs).

    I'm not all that bothered about music these days, frankly, and the biz doesn't really give me much reason to take an interest.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    But do the purchases count towards the independant radio top40 countdown

    or will they stick to using iTunes only.

    Thumbs down for iTunes as not every music player is an iPod

  20. James Pickett

    Double the price..

    ..of Emusic, which doesn't do chart stuff, but has a good catalogue of independents. Good for those with catholic taste.

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