If you’re wondering what direction the future of digital music distribution on the Internet lies, here’s one possibility. AOL Time Warner Inc., Bertelsmann AG, EMI Group plc and RealNetworks Inc. have announced a new online music subscription service called
MusicNet will offer downloadable and streaming content produced from artists affiliated with the subsidiaries of MusicNet’s founding partners — EMI Recorded Music, BMG Entertainment and Warner Music Group. Users who subscribe to MusicNet will be able to download and listen to music streams from popular artists including Christina Aguilera, Bjork, Eric Clapton, Everclear, Faith Hill, Madonna, Dave Matthews, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Santana and many others.
The new venture also plans to offer licenses to other digital music services, including Napster, “provided such outlets satisfy legal, copyright and security concerns.” The first two licensees are America Online and RealNetworks, which will launch their own independent online subscription services in late summer of this year. The underlying delivery technology that will drive MusicNet is based on RealNetworks’ own RealPlayer technology.
MusicNet said that its licenses with EMI, Warner and BMG are non-exclusive, as well — other services could conceivably license the same content for distribution on their platforms. MusicNet also hopes to license music from other major labels and independent labels.
RealNetworks CEO Rob Glaser is also the interim CEO of MusicNet. He said that MusicNet offers consumers an easy way of getting digital music that protects the intellectual property of record companies and artists alike.
“Looking ahead, we hope that all the major and independent labels will join MusicNet to create one-stop music subscription offerings with unbeatable consumer momentum. We look forward to working with the entire industry to make music subscription services a reality,” said Glaser.