Plug-in software goes live in U.K.

RealNetworks Inc., the digital media and entertainment creator, today (Nov. 1) launches RealAmplify, an ad-free streamed online-music radio technology for both consumers and Web-based businesses to use on Web sites.

RealAmplify is a plug-in software that consumers can download from the www.realamplify.com to create a radio player that can be embedded in their own personal Web sites or personal pages on social-networking services such as MySpace.com.

It is currently only available in the United Kingdom, but there are future plans for a European expansion.

Each RealAmplify user can select any one of 50 regularly updated genre-based or artist-based online radio stations. Each station, with no ads or DJ interruptions, offers 200-plus CD-quality tracks that visitors to the user's personal Web page can click, stream and play.

There is no charge to the Web-page owner or visitors, although RealNetworks pays the required royalties to the relevant collecting societies, such as the U.K.'s PPL.

Should visitors want a wider choice of online radio stations, the RealAmplify radio player features a link to a separate premium service called RealMusic, RealNetworks' subscription-funded pan-European radio-music operation.

RealMusic offers 300 genre-based, artist-themed and third-party stations specially created by RealNetworks, plus "thousands" of free Web-delivered editions of traditional stations.

RealAmplify will also be available to third-party commercial partners, including those online retailers which are seeking radio entertainment on their Web sites to encourage repeat visits.

Piers Heaton-Armstrong, RealNetworks' London-based GM consumer products, Europe, Middle East and Africa, tells Billboard.biz: "RealAmplify has numerous advantages, including positioning RealNetworks more with Internet radio. It is very flexible for any retailer partner, and we're now discussing whether those partners can add their own (associated) advertisements or run RSS (news bulletin) feeds."

Although RealNetworks has still not verified if and when it will bring its U.S. premium service Rhapsody to Europe, Heaton-Armstrong says its Real.com consumer Web site will be relaunched early next year with enhanced links to some of Rhapsody's content.