Leading Australian Web portal Ninemsn has bowed a legitimate digital-download store. The new online initiative -- launched Wednesday (April 21) -- is powered by U.K.-based digital-music service provid

Leading Australian Web portal Ninemsn has bowed a legitimate digital-download store. The new online initiative -- launched Wednesday (April 21) -- is powered by U.K.-based digital-music service provider OD2.

More than 200,000 tracks from the five majors and various independents are accessible to download from the Ninemsn site. Plans are to increase the number of available songs to 300,000 by year's end, the company says in a statement. Prices for each download vary from A$1.45($1.05) to A$1.89 ($1.38).

Set up in 1997 as a 50:50 joint venture between Microsoft and media conglomerate PBL, Ninemsn is the country's busiest Web site, according to Internet tracking service Hitwise.

In related news, Destra Corporation says its competing download store has signed up Warner Music Australia as a content provider.

Warner will provide "a significant number" of tracks, from such artists as R.E.M., matchbox twenty, Missy Elliott and local act Magic Dirt, according to Destra. Destra sells its music online through retail partners Sanity.com.au, ChaosMusic.com.au, HMV.com.au and JBHiFi.com.au, and claims it will have 500,000 tracks for download by mid-year.

Destra's service launched in December 2003. To date, Universal Music is the only major yet to license content for the service.

Neither Destra nor Telstra BigPond -- the other key player in the market Down Under--will divulge download sales figures.