Eircom pulls plug on online MusicHub

Eircom is winding up its MusicHub downloading service just over two years after it was launched to combat the growth of illegal music sites.

In a statement on its website, Eircom said both its MusicHub and Meteor Music Store services would be withdrawn on Jul 31 as they are “not a core business activity”.

Users of the service were notified of the decision by email yesterday.

The MusicHub service was introduced in Dec 2010. At the time, Eircom was under pressure to apply the “three strikes and you’re out” rule to its customers who were illegally downloading music from sites like BitTorrent and The Pirate Bay.

It was launched in conjunction with IRMA (Irish Recorded Music Association) and leading record labels such as EMI, Sony, Warner, and Universal and offered customers access to unlimited streaming of millions of tracks, as well as 15 downloads at a cost of €5.99 per month or 40 downloads for €12.99 per month.

In Jan 2009, Eircom agreed to implement a number of protocols aimed at stopping the use of its services for illegally downloading music. This decision came as part of a settlement after High Court proceedings taken by four record labels.

Under the protocol, anyone engaged in the illegal sharing of music files first receives a warning from Eircom that their activity is illegal, which will then be followed by written warnings. Any customer who persists in such activity will face having their broadband connection suspended for one week up to a maximum sanction of being disconnected for 12 months.

In a statement, Eircom said although its MusicHub service was being wound down, it would continue to tackle illegal file sharing.

“Music previously purchased and downloaded from both services is unaffected by the service withdrawals. From Wednesday, Jul 31, customers will no longer have the option to stream music via the MusicHub service. Eircom remains committed to addressing the issue of illegal file sharing through its graduated response process which has been in place since 2010,” said the statement.

Given the crowded nature of the internet music sales market, rumours about the closure of MusicHub have been circulating online for the past few months.

When it was launched, in Dec 2010, popular services such as Spotify and Deezer were not in the market. Along with Apple iTunes and Google’s entry into the market, all placed huge pressure on Eircom’s ability to compete successfully with MusicHub.

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