Panasonic, the consumer-brand division of Japanese electronics goods maker Matsushita, today (July 28) launched an online digital music Web site that it hopes will also drive sales of its new MP3 play

Panasonic, the consumer-brand division of Japanese electronics goods maker Matsushita, today (July 28) launched an online digital music Web site that it hopes will also drive sales of its new MP3 players.

The Panasonic Music Stream service, currently only available in the United Kingdom, is powered by digital service provider OD2, the European subsidiary of Seattle-based Loudeye Corp.

The catalog of available titles includes repertoire from the four majors and independent labels at prices of £0.79 ($1.37) each downloaded song and £0.01 per streamed track. And the service will be specially promoted by offering a £0.49 ($0.85) per downloadable track until Aug. 7.

The new digital music service arrives at the market in parallel with the SVMP120 and SVMP110 MP3 devices, which mark Panasonic's latest move to become a leading manufacturer of portable digital music players. The devices can hold between 70-140 tracks each and cost between £100-£130 ($137-$226).

"This service will offer the first complete end-to-end service powered by Loudeye enabling consumers to buy both hardware and legitimate downloads from the same site," says Philip Shepherd, Loudeye's London-based head of strategic partnerships for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

The players can download music from any digital store that sells songs digitized in Microsoft Corp.'s DRM-protected WMA (Windows Media Audio) software. And any WMA-supported player can be used to buy tracks from Panasonic's site.