@ MidemNet: Sony BMG Sees ’09 Digital Tipping Point; Backs Unlimited Music-As-Service

Sony (NYSE: SNE) BMG reckons its digital music revenue will first meet that of its physical sales next year. “It’s rapidly going to 50 percent in the US – in ’09, we’re going to be around 50/50 between physical and digital,” the label’s global digital music president Thomas Hesse said as the sun set on Midem’s first day here in France.

Given lingering industry negativity over that holy grail-like tipping point remaining beyond reach, that would be a watershed. Jupiter Research had pegged 2010 for this milestone in Europe (see our earlier post). Industry body IFPI this week said digital makes up just 15 percent of global music sales, 30 percent in the US (see post) – matching Sony BMGs latest US digital percentage.

Hesse also threw Sony BMG’s weight behind a switch to music as an all-you-can-eat adjunct service like Nokia’s (NYSE: NOK) Comes With Music program. “This idea of bundling music or access … enjoying music on a fairly large scale with either a device or with access, be it a cell phone contract or a cable contract … to me, that’s the next frontier. We feel quite optimistic about it.”

Access to music so that music becomes something you can access in a very free way with very little encumbrances.” Users would get “fairly unlimited access”; “the commercial terms have to be such that it all works out, but all the testing that we’re doing is that (customers) respond very favourably to it.”