If you can't beat 'em, join 'em Ö or join them in order to try and beat them Ö or something like that. It was announced yesterday that RealNetworks, maker of a popular Internet-based music and video player, is partnering with the major record labels AOL
Time Warner, Bertelsmann AG, and EMI
Group to create an online music subscription
service called MusicNet to be available sometime this year. Like their mortal nemesis, Napster, users of MusicNet will be able to download songs over the internet for a fee.
Record label execs are characterizing this move as the solution they've been waiting for - "There is this notion that somehow the music companies won't play or
don't want to license" music for online distribution, said Dick Parsons,
co-chief operating officer of AOL Time Warner. "What we were
waiting for was someone who would make music available in an
appropriate way over the Internet."
The way it'll work is the record labels and RealNetworks will
each own a stake in MusicNet. Labels will license music
to them on a non-exclusive basis, and RealNetworks will provide
the technology for the service.
MusicNet will then partner with companies to distribute the music. The
initial partners, AOL and RealNetworks, will determine the cost of the
subscription service on their own, but the companies declined to give specific details
about what form the music will come in and how MusicNet will ensure
The deal marks the first time so many major labels have agreed to
license music for mass online distribution.