updated 02:05 pm EDT, Wed August 31, 2005
HMV, Virgin music market
HMV and Virgin both are preparing to launch music download services that will compete with each other and Apple's iTunes music store. Virgin's online store is set to debut on September 2, while HMV looks to September 9 for a release date, according to . Both firms aim to offer the choice between pay-for-play and subscription services, while the iTunes music store currently only offers pay-for-play services. HMV is also planning to offer a flexible pricing structure which varies the cost of songs based on the popularity of artists, and is investing £10 million to create HMV Digital sections for all of its 200 stores in the UK. Virgin plans to offer an "ask the expert" service that will provide answers to questions about music by Virgin's music experts.