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Virgin Digital Exits Music Business

The world of digital music sales has had another casualty: Virgin Digital has announced it is shuttering operations. The digital music retailer offered music in Windows-Media DRM-protected formats. In the U.S., the outfit will formally stop selling music to customers on September 28, but in the UK it stopped offering tracks on September 21. Existing customers can still access the service, and it will keep enough operations going through October 19, 2007, so existing customers can come back and back up their songs.

Virgin has offered no reasons for the shutdown, saying only that it “apologies for any inconvenience this might cause.” For U.S. customers, Virgin has set up a partnership with Napster to honor Virgin Digital’s pre-paid cards and vouchers; UK customers with more than one month of outstanding subscriptions will receive a refund, but unused credits for song downloads must be used for October 19 and won’t be refunded.

Virgin Mobile offered both a subscription service which enabled customers to access its entire catalog of music so long as their subscription was current, although they could not burn those songs to CDs. The service also enabled customers to download purchased tracks up to four times to replace lost or corrupted copies.