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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 May, 2004, 11:52 GMT 12:52 UK
Sony unveils online music service
Sheryl Crow
Sheryl Crow helped launch Connect with an in-flight concert on Tuesday
Sony has entered the digital music market by launching an online music download service in the US.

Sony's Connect offers more than 500,000 tracks from major and independent label artists from $0.99 (0.55) per song.

Like Apple, whose iTunes music service boosted sales of its iPod digital players, Sony hopes Connect will boost sales of its own audio players.

"Apple did an excellent job in cultivating this new market," said Sony spokesman Mack Araki.

"We believe we can expand the market to a much broader audience with a broader line of devices and an easy-to-use service."


Connect offers tracks from both major and independent label artists, selling entire albums from $9.99 (5.55).

Its songs are sold in ATRAC3 format, which will play on Sony's own brand of audio devices but is not compatible with Apple's iPod or many other digital music players.

Sheryl Crow, whose songs are available via Connect, helped launch the service with a live performance on a flight from Chicago to Los Angeles on Tuesday.

Santa Monica-based Sony Connect Inc, which runs the service, says the online music market is still developing and that there is room for Sony to make its mark.

Last week, Apple's online music store iTunes marked its first anniversary by announcing it had sold more than 70 million songs in the US in its first year.

In Europe, rival Napster is racing to launch ahead of Apple, while in the UK, MyCokeMusic and services such as HMV and Virgin are beginning to get a foothold in the market.

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