Yahoo! launches digital music site

Leading Web portal Yahoo! said on Monday it has launched Yahoo!

Leading Web portal Yahoo! said on Monday it has launched Yahoo! Digital, a multimedia site that provides the capability to listen to and download music, and watch music-related Web broadcasts. Yahoo! said by the end of the month users also will be able to publish and sell their own music online.

The services are available through Yahoo! Broadcast Services, formerly known as Broadcast.com. Yahoo! agreed to acquire Dallas-based Broadcast.com in April and closed the $4.9bn (£3bn) deal last month.

In addition to launching the service, Yahoo! announced three content deals.

Liquid Audio, which provides open platforms that enable the digital delivery of music over the Internet, will provide secure digital downloads for the site. Financial terms weren't disclosed. Liquid Audio has enjoyed a high profile, thanks to big-name investors like Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's Vulcan Ventures and Intel.

Liquid Audio (liquidaudio.com) said Yahoo! Digital users would be able to access its catalogue of secure music, and users who download the free Liquid Player software will be able to sample music, read lyrics and securely purchase and download singles to their computer. Custom compact disks are also available. The company, which said it would offer more than 20,000 music files, said Yahoo! users would be able to preview songs or albums before they purchase them.

Separately, EMusic.com agreed to offer downloadable music in the MP3 format on Yahoo! Digital. EMusic.com said the arrangement would allow customers to purchase more than 22,000 MP3 tracks for 99 cents per song and $8.99 per album. EMusic.com's Internet Underground Music Archive, or IUMA, will also be represented on Yahoo! Digital. In another deal, Beatnik also said it would provide music for the service. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

EMusic.com and Liquid Audio both employ MP3 technology. MP3 has the music business up in arms because consumers can use it to transfer copyrighted music from CDs to the Internet where it can be downloaded for free. The industry is currently working on the Secure Digital Music Initiative in an attempt to protect copyrights and royalties.

According to Forrester Research, digital-music sales will increase substantially in the next few years. But sales are still only expected to be $1.1bn by 2003, about 7 percent of total music sales. That figure pales in comparison to Forrester's 2003 estimate of about $7bn for online CD sales by such companies as Amazon.com and CDnow

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