Yahoo will on Wednesday (March 15) launch a subscription music service in Taiwan. It becomes Yahoo's third such offering after the United States and Canada, and its first non-English business.

Yahoo will on Wednesday (March 15) launch a subscription music service in Taiwan. It becomes Yahoo's third such offering after the United States and Canada, and its first non-English business.

Yahoo Music Taiwan will offer both streamed and downloaded music, with an initial catalog of 250,000 songs. Around 20% of the catalog will be Mandarin repertoire. The remaining 80% will be international content, including classical, Japanese and Korean music.

Users will be charged a monthly fee of TW$149 ($4.50), with a two-week free trial ending March 28.

"This is the only service in Taiwan that offers the pay-per-download model. [Tethered download] is the way to go, and we're showing that we know how to protect the labels' business," said Dennis Yang, director of entertainment business services at Yahoo Taiwan.

Unlike Yahoo China Music, which is managed separately, Yahoo Taiwan has secured both master and publishing licenses from local and international independent and major labels. A recent Billboard report disclosed that Yahoo China offers deep-links to unlicensed music on third-party sites.

"This (Taiwan) Yahoo Music service is acceptable to both parties, so we are able to tell our writers that they are serious," said Leslie Mok, chairman of the Music Publishers' Assn. of Taiwan.

In addition to the music service, Yahoo has a catalog of more than 500 music videos from local and international acts including Simon Webbe, Wang Lee-hom and Zhang Hui-mei. Those videos will remain free after the initial trial period, with Yahoo planning to expand the catalog over time.

To operate the service, users will be required to download the Yahoo Music player, which is also included in the latest edition of Yahoo Messenger. Music files use the WMA file format with Janus digital rights management.

Music will be streamed at 64kbps while downloads will be compressed at 192kbps. Downloads will be tethered to the user's PC and can't be moved to an MP3 player; they will only be playable as long as the user's subscription to the service is maintained.

Subscribers to the service will be able to pay by credit card online, via their cellphone bill, or through their ISP bill. Yahoo is also exploring pre-paid cards, which would be sold through convenience stores.