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Wednesday, 19 December, 2001, 13:24 GMT
Online music service Pressplay launches
Pressplay
Burning ambition: users will be able to compile CDs
A new online music venture, Pressplay, has made its internet debut - gambling that millions of users will be willing to pay for music they used to get free from outfits like Napster.

Pressplay is a joint venture by Vivendi Universal, Sony and EMI.

It allows users to listen to tracks, store them and record them onto CD.

The launch is a limited one - the service is currently only available to US residents.

Pressplay is offering music to its first several thousand subscribers through affiliates Microsoft, Roxio and Yahoo!.

Pressplay
The service is currently only available on US soil

Burn

Subscribers will be able to compile CDs using up to 20 tracks from their collection of downloads each month.

But they will be able to burn only two tracks from any one artist per month.

"We intend to expand the availability of this service after the new year," a spokesman told Variety magazine.

"Pressplay is limiting its initial launch, simply to be sure we can provide the most dependable, quality service."

Pressplay offers four pricing plans and a free, 14-day trial.

The basic plan costs $9.95 (6.87) a month for 300 streams and 30 downloads - the most expensive costs $24.95 (17.22) for 1,000 streams, 100 downloads and 20 CD burns.

The company's launch comes just weeks after AOL Time Warner, Bertelsmann and EMI unwrapped competitor MusicNet in a similarly limited launch.

MusicNet - which charges $9.95 for 100 downloads - is currently only available through RealNetworks' RealOne service.

Napster pioneer

Other recording companies are also planning online music sites, and some artsts themselves are getting in on the act.

Afro-Celt Sound System
Real World's roster includes the eclectic Afro-Celt Sound System

Peter Gabriel's Real World service has already launched, giving fans a monthly package of 40 tracks for 5 ($7).

All these companies follow Napster, the California-based company which pioneered the distribution of music over the web.

Napster allowed users to swap music files free of charge.

It has been mired in a mass of copyright infringement litigation for months.

But before it ground to a halt in the middle of this year, Napster was seeing some 60 million users daily.

See also:

18 Dec 01 | New Media
Deal over web radio royalties
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