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Wednesday, 28 November, 2001, 18:31 GMT
Madonna added to download service
The download service will launch in mid-December
The download service will launch in mid-December
Songs by Madonna, Prince and REM are among those that will be available through one of the biggest legitimate internet download services to date.

The service, which will launch in mid-December, will give music fans access to a certain number of songs for a limited period in return for a monthly subscription fee.

The likes of Robbie Williams, Stereophonics and Gorillaz will also feature on the service, which is being distributed through Peter Gabriel's OD2 digital distribution company.

Gorillaz tracks will also be available
Gorillaz tracks will also be available
OD2 has just signed a deal with Warner Music, whose artists will join those from the labels already on board, including EMI, BMG and V2.

Record companies are still battling the popularity of free, illegal services that have taken the place of Napster - but analysts expect the market for paid-for downloads to increase dramatically over the next few years.

Major labels are planning to launch their own subscription services, MusicNet and Pressplay, in December.

Fee

But OD2 has established already itself as one of the UK's major internet download services and has more than 500 record labels signed up to the scheme.

The first website to carry OD2's WebAudioNet service will be pan-European site Tiscali.

Fans will pay about 5 for access to about 25 tracks per month - but the tracks will expire, and not play on the user's computer, after 30 days.

Subscribers will choose whether they want to pick the tunes themselves, or whether they want a pre-selected play list sent to them based on their tastes.

'Pioneer'

"Subscription to digital music is predicted to add significant revenues and growth to the music industry over the next five years," OD2 chief executive Charles Grimsdale said.

"Warner has one of the greatest catalogues on earth and is a pioneer in opening up its repertoire to new distribution models."

Warner is also helping create another music subscription service, MusicNet, with Real Networks, EMI and Bertelsmann.

MusicNet is expected to launch in early December and cost $10-20 (7-14) per month.

The other download service created by the remaining major labels, Pressplay, is also due to start in December.

See also:

23 Nov 01 | Showbiz
Madonna 'angry' over Morton book
04 Nov 01 | Showbiz
Madonna tops pay list
19 Nov 01 | New Media
HMV begins music downloads
14 Nov 01 | New Media
Music site deals proliferate
14 Nov 01 | New Media
Religious tunes kickstart net service
25 Oct 01 | New Media
BT tests music download service
19 Oct 01 | New Media
Pressplay signs record labels
16 Oct 01 | New Media
Download sites face more scrutiny
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