RealNetworks said it is releasing the golden versions of its RealJukebox player today, and it announced a quartet of commerce and content partnerships intended to boost the popularity of its digital music player.
The streaming media developer said more than 10 million copies of its RealJukebox player have been downloaded by users since a beta version of the player was posted on its Web site in May. The software - available both as a free player and in a $30 Plus version that adds higher-quality sound and music management capabilities - lets PC users download MP3 and other popular music files, record CD audio to their hard disks, play the music on their PCs or on portable devices and manage digital music content.
To help further popularize the technology - among consumers, online music merchants and music labels interested in promoting their artists - RealNetworks said it added two capabilities to its software. RealJukebox users will now be able to download and play back music videos along with their audio tracks, said Maria Cantwell, senior vice president of the consumer and e-commerce divisions at Real. Among the first videos offered: a Nine Inch Nails music video that promotes the group's latest album.
The RealJukebox software also provides a way for music promoters to offer fans additional content through the player. Sony Music Entertainment's Epic Records plans to offer RealJukebox users in October the ability to download three music tracks from Rage Against The Machine: two tracks from the group's forthcoming album and one unreleased live track.
Rage Against The Machines fans who buy the band's new album will also be able to download a fourth track - not available on the album - through a RealJukebox technology allowing them to connect the CD to a private Web site. "This Internet promotion represents a great opportunity for Rage fans everywhere to connect with the band and experience a special preview of the forthcoming album," said Polly Anthony, president of Epic Records Group.
The technology also represents the first time Internet bonus tracks have been made available to consumers who buy the corresponding CD, according to Cantwell. "This is the first time that the Internet has been used to provide previously unreleased music exclusively to CD purchasers," she said. "Through this effort, RealJukebox is providing Rage Against The Machine with a brand-new, compelling and efficient way to add value to CDs. Rage fans can both preview the upcoming CD and access more music once they purchase the CD."
To help RealJukebox users find and purchase CD titles, Real also announced a deal that gives its users direct access to CheckOut.com's music content and online store. Cantwell declined to comment on terms of the deal. But in the past, Real has said it expects to share in the e-commerce transactions it helps generate through its player.
"We want to make sure we've created the software interface with the user so they can access content, whether it's downloadable music in a variety of formats or it's a place to buy the CD. The idea is that . . . they have one-click access to that content through RealJukebox," Cantwell said. "You should look at those e-commerce and content deals as a way for us and our partners to get values out of the eyeballs of 10 million RealJukebox users."
Real also said that Samsung becomes the fifth portable device manufacturer to announce support for the RealJukebox software; the RCA Lyra, Creative Labs Nomad, Diamond Rio and an as-yet unnamed digital audio player from Philips Electronics will also work with the RealJukebox software to play digital audio files.