NatWest launches Magex digital music site

Magex, the e-commerce spin-off from NatWest bank, is launching a Web site for Internet music it was announced Wednesday.

cranberrygrove.net is a pilot scheme for the digital distribution of music along the same lines of IBM's Madison project. The technology behind the project -- provided by InterTrust -- will secure artists rights and protect copyright according to Magex.

Magex is calling on music labels and distributors to get involved with the trial, which runs from July to September, by offering catalogues for downloading. No partners have yet been announced but "large companies down to independents" are in talks with Magex, according to head of marketing, Roger Elwell.

Fans of digital downloading will be able to participate in the trial by visiting cranberry.net. The software for buying music -- dubbed the Digibox -- will be downloadable free from the site. Prices and availability of music are not yet worked out.

While the major record labels wait for the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) to announce its standards for Internet distribution at the end of June, the popularity of Net music continues apace. A recent report from Market Tracking predicts online music delivery will grow 2000 percent by year end.

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