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"By making its music available for sale both through Liquid Audio’s distribution network and a customized subscription model, Sanctuary will provide a variety of consumer-friendly choices for fans who wish to access music digitally."
——Liquid's Michael Abbattista
THE RETURN OF DOT DOT DOT COM
The Latest From Usual Suspects Liquid Audio, RealNetworks and EMusic, Plus People Griping About Pressplay!
Remember the dot.com era, when developments at new-media companies sparked lots of press coverage and debate? Return with us now to that relatively carefree time.

Hey, this could be the first wave of Internet nostalgia!

Liquid Audio has inked a digital-distribution pact with U.K.-based Sanctuary Records Group, which boasts music by artists as diverse as Iron Maiden, Bob Marley, The Kinks and Lynyrd Skynyrd, among many others. The deal will allow online music fans "full ownership" (i.e. burnable to CD or transferable to portable devices) of tracks acquired either as a la carte purchases or as part of a monthly subscription. The music will be available this fall. "Sanctuary Records Group possesses the most comprehensive independent catalog of rock music available anywhere," proclaimed Liquid Sr. Dir. of Content and Label Relations Michael Abbattista. "By making its music available for sale both through Liquid Audio’s distribution network and a customized subscription model, Sanctuary will provide a variety of consumer-friendly choices for fans who wish to access music digitally." In this context, of course, "consumer-friendly" is defined as "not free and can’t be shared."

RealNetworks has rolled out the latest version of its RealOne Player, which it boasts is a "universal media player." The newest incarnation offers playback of files in the RealAudio, RealVideo, MP3, Windows Media and Quicktime formats, not to mention CD-burning, support for DVD playback and all the content you can stream through Real’s various sub services. And speaking of sub services, Real now offers something called RadioPass and another service presented in collaboration with the Official College Sports Networks. That last one may have something to do with college sports, but what do we know?

EMusic is trumpeting the availability of two new albums from beloved indie band Frank Black and the Catholics in the MP3 format. Black, AKA Black Francis, was the frontman for post-punk innovators the Pixies. The latest collections, Black Letter Days and Devil’s Workshop, are being released by SpinART Records and can be downloaded in their entirety by EMusic subscribers, who will also have access to the much-discussed reissue of the early Pixies tracks collectively known as The Purple Tape.

Pressplay is once again the focus of griping, this time from mostly unsourced executives of some online competitors, according to a Los Angeles Times report. The Universal-Sony joint venture, tarred as a weak, restrictive online service designed more to mollify demands that the majors put their music online than to offer consumers anything meaningful, was recently overhauled. The latest version has enjoyed generally favorable reviews, but the anonymous execs charge that the labels behind the venture haven’t offered music to competitors on the same terms. The Justice Department is said to be looking into pressplay and another major-backed service, MusicNet, exploring possible antitrust violations. But Larry Kenswil of UMG’s eLabs told the TimesJon Healey, "We would be happy to make a deal, similar to the one we made with pressplay, with anyone who comes to us with a similar business proposition." Meanwhile, Mike Bebel, who recently succeeded Andy Schuon as pressplay chief, took an even more conciliatory tone. "We understand that everybody is headed in the same direction," he averred to Healey. "We think that the landscape will be pretty even not too long from now."

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