Monthly MP3 subscriptions hit the Web

Get on down with the latest MP3 tunes from RioPort and its new subscription service

The first subscription based online music service is set to go live next month.

British club goliath Ministry of Sound has signed a deal with RioPort to offer its customers free access to every track hosted on its site for a monthly fee.

Rather than paying for each individual download, consumers will have unlimited access to over 100 tracks each month from some of the US and UK's foremost dance record labels.

Since the advent of online audio formats such as MP3, analysts and industry observers have been predicting that we are in line for seismic shift in the way we listen to and purchase music. Analysts such as Martin Brass, director of new media at the Media Research Information Bureau and former record producer, are convinced that the future lies in such subscription based models as the Ministry of Sound's.

"Why would I pay £15 for an album that I may only listen to once when I could rent it with an option to buy," he says.

Ministry of Sound customers will also be able to download a branded version of RioPort's software to manage and store downloaded tracks. "The strength of our subscription model lies in our ability to deliver popular content never before available for download to consumers in an easy and affordable manner," says J.D Heilprin, executive vice president of RioPort.

Meanwhile, a recent report from US research firm eBrain found that over 70 percent of consumers aged 15 to 21 who have listened to MP3 perceive the sound quality to be equal or better than a "typical stereo."

The survey of found 1,551 that around 94 percent were using their computer as a source of music and 25 percent had connected their PC up to their traditional hi-fi system.