Musicmatch iTunes-style service goes live

Downloads from 99c a pop

Where Apple leads, others quickly follow: online music company Musicmatch today said its PC-only song download service now encompasses 99c transfers coupled with relaxed usage rules.

Musicmatch's take on the iTunes Music Store concept was first announced in July. The scheme will see a range of songs offered for a one-off payment. Songs can be played on up to three PCs and can be copied to WMA 9-compatibled music players. Songs can be burned to CDs, but the same playlist can only be burned up to five times - Apple's puts the limit at ten burns.

Musicmatch isn't the first PC-oriented music reseller to offer such a service - BuyMusic.com already do so. And Napster and Dell will do so by Christmas. Apples should havfe brought iTunes to the PC by then, too. However, Musicmatch's pitch is that it has broader label support than the other two. While the majors are signed up to multiple providers, Musicmatch claims to offer over 30 independent labels' catalogue than its rivals.

That said, it still can offer only 200,000 songs right now, though it promised to have 500,000 songs available for download by the end of the year.

The company also touted its personalisation technology, which uses a customer's download history to suggest artists and albums he or she might also find to their taste.

Tracks are encoded using Windows Media 9 at 160Kbps. In addition to Windows Media 9 technology, the service requires users run the iTunes-like Musicmatch Jukebox 8.1 application. Like Apple's service, Musicmatch's downloads are only available to US residents. While US buyers have a choice of provider, European listeners seeking a legal source of music from the major labels have to buy from the de facto monopoly provider, OD2. ®

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