RealNetworks to plug in MusicNet

RealNetworks is scheduled to launch its much-anticipated subscription service for online music Tuesday, offering a major test of consumer demand for paid content on the Web.

The service, known as RealOne Music, comes amid a flurry of similar announcements--and a chorus of skepticism over the prospects of paid subscriptions in the face of free songs available on file-swapping services popularized by Napster. RealNetworks said it will charge $9.95 a month for the service on its own, or $19.95 a month as part of a larger package of content that includes exclusive sports, entertainment and news programming.

Tacitly acknowledging the difficulties facing RealOne Music, RealNetworks also plans to unveil an upgrade to its popular media player aimed at making it easier for consumers to collect and organize music for the PC and other devices--its latest shot at rival Microsoft in a bitter battle for dominance in the online media market.

The new player, which is free, includes a browser built on Microsoft's Internet Explorer that helps people find music and video files on the Web. It also incorporates features of RealNetworks' popular RealJukebox software, listing music copied from CDs or downloaded from the Web side by side with songs purchased through RealOne.

News source: News CNET

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