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Helio Launches Mobile Music Service

Helio Launches Mobile Music Service

The youth-oriented mobile phone operator Helio, run by Earthlink founder Sky Dayton, has launched Helio Music, a new music download service which lets Helio users buy tunes from major labels using their mobile phones for $1.99 each. But that’s not all: Helio promises its catalot and interface will put other over-the-air music download services to shame, and, soon, users will be able to buy tunes via Helio for just $.99 apiece using their PCs.

“Shopping for music on a phone from a major carrier is a little like browsing the music aisle at a department store—a lifeless experience watered down to the lowest common denominator,” said Sky Dayton, Helio CEO. “Helio Music is a throwback to the corner record shop, combining great selection with a music-loving staff that can help you quickly find what you’re looking for, and a comfortable environment where it’s fun to just browse and discover.”

Helio Music will feature tracks from Sony BMG, Warner Music Group, Universal, and EMI, and enable customers to preview tracks over the air, view artist bios and images, access community recommendations, and (of course) buy tracks. Helio says its interface is designed to cut down on clutter and focus on getting users right to the music or album easily, so folks spend more time focussing on music and less time dodging around annoying widgets, interfaces, and other “stuff.” The service also includes recommendations for new releases, featured songs, and Helio organizes tracks into genre-based categories. Once a user lands on an artist page, Helio makes it simple to find ringtones, video rings, and full-out music videos.

Interestingly, Helio offers users to “Gift & Beg” full-tack downloads; if a Helio user thinks a friend will like a track, they can “gift” it to them by purcahsing the track on their behalf, and the track will be downloaded directly to their friend’s Helio device over the air. Similarly, Helio users can “beg” other Helio users to buy them a track: not classy, perhaps, but maybe it’s what all the kids are doing these days.

Helio says that later in 2007, they will debut a PC-based version of Helio Music, enabling customers to get the same song on their phone and PC and one price. Tracks downloaded from the PC-based store will be side-loadable into the Helio device via USB, but will cost just $.99 apiece. (Tracks downloaded over the air can also be transferred from a phone to the PC music library.)

Right now, only the Helio Drift phone supports Helio Music, and the service is available with Helio All-In memberships, with data charges applying to A La Carte memberships.

Since its launch in May 2006, Helio says it’s built a customer base which spends over a hundred dollars per month on mobile phone services, and they company claims its on track to hit 100,000 users in the second quarter of 2007.

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