Pressplay: joint venture between Sony Music Entertainment andUniversal Music Group. Now at Version 2.5, added features includeBillboard chart data, customizable radio station and "Invite-a-Friend/Member-Get-Member" program, whichrewards subscribers with a free 10-pack (a $9.95 value) for referring afriend who signs up with the service. www.pressplay.com
MusicNet: content provided by RealNetworks, AOL Time Warner,Bertelsmann and EMI Group. RealNetworks' RealOne player acts as thedistribution vehicle. MusicNet is also available on AOL, where AOLsubscribers can listen, download and burn from more than 250,000 tracksfrom the Big Five and numerous indies. Three tiers of service: "Basic," which offers 20 streams and 20 downloadsfor $3.95 per month; "Standard" gives users unlimited streaming anddownloading for $8.95 per month; and "Premium," which boasts unlimitedstreaming and downloading, plus the ability to burn 10 songs to CD eachmonth for $17.95 per month. www.musicnet.com
RealNetworks: With the acquisition of Listen.com for aproposed total of $36 million, the company now has access to theRhapsody online music subscription service—which has partneredwith a number of consumer electronics companies to bring the serviceinto consumer's homes—and augment its foray into online musicsubscription services: RealOne and MusicNet, which launched in 2001with backing by AOL Time Warner, Bertelsmann and EMI.
Rhapsody has played the role of independent music service providerfor the past five years, and now brings on licensing deals with EMI,BMG and Sony Music. www.real.com
Liquid Audio: Anderson Merchandisers (music distributor forWal-Mart) recently bought most of this digital music pioneer's assets.Plans remain up in the air on distributing music downloads throughWal-Mart's Website and other retailers. www.liquidaudio.com
Echo: a consortium driven by Best Buy, HastingsEntertainment, Tower Records, Trans World Entertainment, VirginEntertainment and Wherehouse Music that seeks competitive licenses thatenable retailers to deliver digital music products and services throughindividually branded or Echo-branded offerings. There is no echo.comfor music downloads; music will be made available at the individualretailer's site, though no formal plans have been announced.
MP3.com:Founded in 1997, MP3.combegan as a site where artists could share their music and gainimmediate exposure to a fast-growing global audience of musicfans.It is nowowned by Vivendi Universal Net USA Group (the U.S. arm of VivendiUniversal's Paris-based Internet and technology unit) and appears inover 250 countries; the service is now fueled by Liquid Audio. The company provides music personalization,comprehensive genre and artist charts, the Platinum Service to showcaseand promote artists, and customized B2B services such as audio hostingand music licensing. www.mp3.com
Apple: Garnering licensing deals with the Big Five, computergiant Apple joins the music distribution gang with its iTunes MusicStore digital download service, which With over 200,000 high-fidelitytracks, users can purchase single tracks for $0.99 (average of $9.99for an entire album), burn to CD, play on their iPods (which is now atVersion 4) and other "i" software and play on up to three Macs at oncevia OS X's Rendevous software. This last feature allows the user tostream—not download—another user's playlist (as long ashe/she is using iTunes jukebox) to his/her computer. Other featuresinclude original CD artwork; the ability to browse by genre, artist oralbum; exclusive tracks from 20 (and growing) artists; streaming video;and links to artists' Web sites. www.applemusic.com
Gateway: In an effort to curb illegal downloads and promoteits new download music service, Gateway has launched a Web site, www.ripburnrespect, that is devoted to educatingmusic consumers about how to legally download music to theirPCs—most notably, to a Gateway computer. Additionally, TV spotspromoting Listen.com's Rhapsody service are set to air.
FullAudio's MusicNow: Offering unlimited streaming and tethered downloads, plusà la carte permanent, burnable downloads, users can access thisservice for $9.95 per month or $0.99 per permanent download.FullAudio's newest release is available through Internet serviceproviders Earthlink and Charter Communications. www.fullaudio.com