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Music giants loosen their grip on licences

CD burning service launches in the US... for consumers who are willing to pay...
Written by CNET Networks, Contributor

CD burning service launches in the US... for consumers who are willing to pay...

US music site Listen.com is to launch a service which will enable users to burn CDs from digital files. In keeping with the legit nature of mainstream music sites in the post-Napster era, consumers will have to pay to use the service, which charges 99 cents per song. This price structure means consumers will be paying only a little less for their CD than they would for the full retail version, complete with packaging, sleeve notes and any added extras. A new version of Listen's Rhapsody service that includes the CD-burning function will be released next week, with the ability to burn custom CDs using songs from Universal Music, Warner Music Group, and nearly two dozen independent labels. The Listen.com service does suggest major music companies are starting to warm to the idea of licensed third party sites distributing their music digitally. Several other companies, including major label-backed Pressplay and independent Full Audio, have also won limited rights to let consumers burn CDs from music acquired through paid subscription services. While none of the offers exactly match consumers' desires for complete, unrestricted rights to music, it's a critical step forward, analysts say. PJ McNealy, research director with GartnerG2, said: "CD burning is very important. This is portability, and that's what consumers want." Listen's Rhapsody service, along with Pressplay, MusicNet and Full Audio, are all scrambling to build businesses based around access to a huge range of music for a relatively low monthly fee. Since their inception, the companies have laboured under a comparison with file-swapping networks such as Kazaa or the now-defunct Napster. Songs downloaded through those free services can be easily transferred to MP3 players or burned onto CDs. The subscription services have smaller catalogues, limited ability to move songs to other devices, and most of all, cost between $10 and $15 per month. They are unambiguously legal, however - while many other file-swapping services struggle with copyright issues. UK digital music distributor OD2 currently offers a CD burning service, which entitles users to burn a CD with five songs on for £5. Again the price structure closely follows the per song cost of CDs on the high street. John Borland writes for News.com
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