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Softbank to launch digital music operation

eS! Music will heavily undercut rivals on price

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Japan's Softbank will be using its takings from the sale of publisher Ziff-Davis to break into the soon-to-be-highly-lucrative digital music market. Later this month, Softbank will launch eS! Music, which will, in turn, launch an Internet-based music sales and download service aimed at Japanese consumers in the summer. Between the formation of the operation and the launch of its site, eS! plans to seek out and sign up record labels and individual artists. The service's USP will be very low prices. It plans to charge just Y100 (90 cents) per download, compared to around Y350 ($2.99) that Sony, for one, will charge when its site, Dotmusic, launches on 22 December. Sony's music subsidiary criticised the eS! pricing plan, claiming that it will ensure neither artist nor record company makes a profit. Sony itself claims to have the backing of almost all of the 200 bands and solo performers on its roster for Dotmusic, and will have 400-500 tracks available for download by this time next year, according to the Nikkei newswire. ®

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