Richard Branson's Virgin Group said it was jumping into the increasingly crowded market for online music, with a "Digital Megastore" offering US customers song downloads for 99 cents. The move pits the British magnate's company against the popular Apple iTunes music service, Microsoft's MSN and others offering pay-per-download.
Virgin said it would be offering more than one million songs on its site and would be selling at least 50 portable music players. "Virgin stands for innovation, fun, and an absolute dedication to customer value," said Branson in a statement. "We worked directly with passionate music fans around the world and together we've come up with a digital music service that truly defines the Virgin energy and spirit. It's time for a digital music revolution."
The venture is a new challenge for Branson, the tycoon who made his initial fortune in the record industry, heads Virgin Atlantic airlines and has also launched a string of other companies in sectors such as railways, mobile phones, Internet access and soft drinks.