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AOL, Liquid Audio enter digital music pact

Nullsoft Winamp and Liquid Audio will integrate and cross-promote their music delivery systems

Two of the Web's digital music heavyweights have joined forces.

AOL's Nullsoft Winamp, producers of the Winamp audio player and the Shoutcast streaming audio system, and online music software and services company Liquid Audio have announced a strategic alliance to integrate and cross-promote their music delivery systems.

Under the deal, Liquid Audio will supply music content in both the Liquid Audio and MP3 formats for download on both Winamp and Spinner's playlist. Liquid Audio is also to develop a Liquid Plug-in for the Winamp player to allow users full access to Liquid Audio's entire digital music catalogue. Winamp users will be able to preview, purchase and download music from over 1000 record labels distributed by Liquid Audio.

AOL's Winamp player, with the Liquid Audio Plug-in, will be distributed on all of AOL's digital music sites. The two companies also said that they would combine to encourage content providers to promote and sell Liquid Downloads.

Even though Justin Frankel, founder of Winamp, claims that both companies are "committed to remaining format agnostic", the deal won't harm Liquid Audio, currently in the process of encoding EMI's back catalogue, in its muted battle to get its format accepted as the standard for digital music downloads.

This is just the latest move in AOL's bid to become one of the biggest players in online music distribution. Last August the company signed an agreement whereby Emusic would provide downloadable tracks for Spinner and Winamp, both of which had been acquired two months previously.

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