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AOL’S ON THE NET
MusicNet, That Is, as Online Giant Bows Sub Service
America Online is ready to find out if there’s any competing with free.

AOL today debuted its version of MusicNet, the subscription music service developed by Real Networks, Warner Music Group, BMG and EMI. The addition to the company’s AOL Music section will allow users direct access to streams and downloads of popular songs— all for an extra charge on that monthly subscription bill, which varies depending on which level of service a user chooses.

With around 260,000 songs to start, AOL is offering the MusicNet service in three price tiers: “Basic” for $3.95 a month, which allows 20 streams and 20 downloads; “Standard” for $8.95 a month, which allows unlimited streaming and downloading; and “Premium” for $17.95 a month, which allows unlimited streaming and downloading along with permission to burn 10 songs per month to CD. AOL plans to add a 5-burn, $13.95 tier this spring, with a la carte burns to be introduced later in the year.

Subscribers to the AOL MusicNet service will be offered a free 30-day trial of the Standard tier.

Songs downloaded from the service will “time out” if the subscriber cancels the MusicNet service; song files are also encrypted to prevent unauthorized burning and file sharing. AOL says it has allowed for the service to be accessible from two computers, however.

Features of the AOL MuicNet service include the ability to stream or download songs or entire albums, the ability to stream and download simultaneously, a music search function that can search by artist, album, track, style or keyword, and simplified playback and file management controls. Parental controls also allow for blocking of explicit content.

AOL Entertainment Sr. VP/GM Kevin Conroy says, "Over the past year, AOL has led the way in making online music mainstream by working with artists, record labels and music publishers to use the online medium as a primary promotional and sales platform. Now, with the launch of MusicNet on AOL, we are able to meet consumer demand for finding, downloading and burning music in an easy and convenient way that also respects copyright ownership. MusicNet on AOL is a great addition to our already popular range of music programming and products, and provides another great reason to upgrade to AOL Broadband."

Added MusicNet CEO Alan McGlade, "The launch of MusicNet on AOL marks a significant milestone for our company as it allows consumers to see our service in its full form for the first time. The power of MusicNet on AOL is that consumers will be able to access their favorite music digitally in an environment that they both have loyalty to and are comfortable with."

A HOLLY, JOLLY
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