Unlimited music service Sky Songs hits beta

It's been well over a year since UK broadcaster Sky officially announced plans to create an unlimited music service, and it's only now just about to go into a limited beta testing phase.

Called "Sky Songs", there's a website up and running now with a "coming soon" banner claiming it will offer "a new way to discover music" but provides no timescale as to when it will be publicly available.

Since Sky's plans were revealed in July 2008, the online music market has changed considerably with the UK launch of Spotify making streaming a more popular choice. In the same time period the similar service We7 has hit 2 million users.

Sky had previously said that for a monthly subscription fee, users would be able to download tracks to listen to later and "to own forever" with tracks said to work on any MP3-compatible device, including iPods, MP3 players and mobile phones, which suggested the songs would be DRM-free.

We do know Sky's offering will be made up of a catalogue of more than 4 million songs from all of the major labels as well as over 100 independents.

How much Sky plans to charge, how usable the site is, and just how unlimited those unlimited claims turn out to be will all be crucial to the success of Sky Songs, especially considering its delayed entry to the market. We will keep you posted.