The service , which is available online and via in-store kiosks, enables consumers to download up to 300 tracks per month for $29.
It was, however, constrained from the start – limited to mp3 players by Samsung, Creative, Sandisk or an SD-expandable whitebox player branded by Sanity Entertainment, and immediately outdone by Telstra BigPond’s DRM-free store and Vodafone’s $2.75 per week unlimited downloads offering.
Itaoui last night sent a letter to customers giving them ’30 days notice that we will no longer be offering a Per Track digital music service in the New Year’.
The service will cease operations on January 1, 2009.
Customers with an outstanding credit balance for the service at that time will have it converted to a Sanity, Virgin or HMV gift card, which will then be mailed to them.
Itaoui in his statement still maintained that the LoadIt music service was ‘groundbreaking’, despite the sudden closure.
“Whilst we are disappointed that we have had to close LoadIt, we will continue to explore innovative new music offerings for our customers,” Itaoui said.
“Please look out for new product offerings from Sanity in the future.”
In the meantime, he recommended customers back up their music library to a recordable audio CD so they can continue playing their music once the service closes.
Microsoft Australia, which was involved in the service launch as a Sanity partner, appear unconcerned at the prospect of the shutdown.
The Loadit software acts as an add-on to Microsoft’s Windows media player version 11.
“Windows Media Player remains the most widely-used music player in Australia and there are many alternative online music services available to Australian customers for use with Windows Media Player 11,” a Microsoft spokesperson told iTnews.
“We are disappointed about Sanity’s announcement to close the online LoadIt service and we understand that existing customers with outstanding online music credits will be reimbursed by Sanity as and where appropriate.
“Microsoft has and will continue to have a positive relationship with Sanity,” the spokesperson said.
Telstra did not want to comment directly on the closure, but said generally that competition in the online music space was good for its own business.
“Competition is always good because it helps us to innovate,” a Telstra spokesperson told iTnews.
“We always welcome competition.”
The spokesperson said they believed Telstra offered a greater experience for customers with DRM-free mp3 downloads encoded at high quality bitrates – typically between 256 and 320kbps.
“We were a pioneer of online music sales in Australia,” the spokesperson said.
“We’re still a very solid number one behind iTunes.”
Likewise, Edward Goff, general manager for consumer markets at Vodafone Australia said its unlimited mobile download service MusicStation had ‘proven to be a popular service’ since launching in September.
One reason is because it’s handset based – which means no credit card, computer or internet connection required, Goff said.
“It makes mobile music as effortless and spontaneous as making a phone call,” Goff told iTnews in a statement.
An Apple PR spokesperson declined to comment on the closure or the state of the market.
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Sanity Entertainment has been contacted for comment but did not return iTnews' calls.
Sanity Music’s LoadIt online music service shuts down
By Ry Crozier on Dec 2, 2008 10:13AM