America Online Inc. has demonstrated its version of the MusicNet digital music subscription platform. AOL Music senior VP and general manager Kevin Conroy referred to Wednesday’s introduction of AOL Presents MusicNet 1.0 as “an important starting point for an entirely new way to purchase music online.” He added that besides being an additional benefit for AOL users, the service would “create valuable new opportunities to expand the market for owning music.”
Its basic cost to consumers will be the same as RealNetworks’ RealOne version of MusicNet — $9.95 a month for a total of 100 digital downloads and 100 streamed songs. Both MusicNet versions provide content from the same central catalog that contains nearly 80,000 tracks from most eras and genres. Downloaded songs become unplayable after 30 days but can be renewed as often as the subscriber wishes.
This is in contrast to Pressplay, MusicNet’s main competitor in the subscription music space, which allows subscribers to build collections and to burn tracks to CDs with some limitations. Pressplay is scheduled to launch this month and will be offered through Yahoo! Inc., MP3.com Inc., Microsoft Corp.’s MSN service, and Roxio.
Warner Music, EMI Recorded Music and Bertelsmann AG’s BMG each own 20% of MusicNet, with the remainder held by RealNetworks. Sony Music Entertainment and Vivendi’s Universal Music Group jointly own Pressplay.
AOL subscribers to MusicNet 1.0 will be able to use their existing AOL software, but full integration into add-ons like the Spinner jukebox software is not yet in place. MusicNet 1.0 was unveiled at the Internet World Fall section of Streaming Media East, under way at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York.