BetaNews | Virgin President Zack Zalon on Digital Music

BetaNews Virgin President Zack Zalon on Digital Music:

"BetaNews: Let's start with a conversation about Virgin's goals. Is it feasible that Virgin wants to compete on the same level as iTunes or Napster? Apple surpassed 250 million iTunes downloads in January.

Zack Zalon: I should start by saying that it is and isn't. Virgin Digital is really an extension of the very platform that launched Virgin over 35 years ago, which is delivering innovative and entertaining music experiences to consumers. We began in the late 1960's by setting up a retail shop in Central London and our goal at the time was to be able to bring music fans closer to music.

One of the ways that Richard Branson did that was by setting up beanbag chairs all around the store and allowing customers to listen for absolutely free to everything that they had in the store. At the time, that seemed counter intuitive to doing business successfully. In fact, everyone -- both his competitors, friends and people in the record business -- were absolutely shocked by it and asked him the question: 'Richard how do you expect to make a dime if you are giving everything away for free?'

And of course time has shown that in fact listening stations are one of the greatest drivers to in-store retail sales that have helped substantially to increase sales and repeat traffic in almost every music retail location around the world. So, that very counter intuitive and extremely innovative way of providing music entertainment to customers worked really well for him. "

Free samples - it worked for Mrs. Field's Cookies.