AOL grooves on MusicNet beta

America Online rolled out the beta version of its MusicNet music subscription service last week, looking to show off the service to its 32 million strong legion of users before it becomes broadly available in January.

          America Online (AOL) rolled out the beta version of its MusicNet music subscription service this week, looking to show off the service to its 32 million strong legion of users before it becomes broadly available in January.

          AOL plans to charge $US9.95 a month for the premium service, which will entitle users to 100 music streams and 100 music downloads from a catalog of more than 78,000 songs. MusicNet, which was formed by AOL parent company AOL Time Warner, Bertelsmann, EMI Group and RealNetworks, is one of a new wave of digital music subscription services that have begun to hit the net.

          RealNetworks introduced MusicNet to consumers last week when it launched with the company's RealOne content subscription service.

          Although MusicNet offers music streams and downloads, it does not offer CD burning capabilities, or the ability to move music to portable MP3 players. Rival major-label backed subscription service Pressplay, which is due to launch before the end of the year, announced this week that it will offer CD burning (see Pressplay to let users burn tracks on a CD). Pressplay was created by Vivendi Universal and Sony Music Entertainment.

          CD burning and the ability to transfer music to portable devices are expected to be major issues in getting users to embrace online subscription services.

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