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Real revives radio-style Euro music service

RadioPass extended with video, ringtones, band demos

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RealNetworks will today step up its efforts to win a share of European music fans' listening time - not to mention their spending power - by relaunching its RadioPass subscription service as RealMusic.

The new offering is pitched at listeners looking to discover new music. In addition to more than 300 ad-free radio streams, plus a selection of exclusive and non-exclusive stations from established broadcasters such as, respectively, Jazz FM and the BBC, and access to many thousands of Internet-based stations, RealMusic wants to bring user-created content to peoples' attention.

Essentially, it's about providing a platform for new bands to post demo tracks, Gabriel Levy, head of music at RealNetworks Europe, told The Register. Levy said RealMusic will form a focal point for fans seeking out new music and new artists.

Real charges £8.50 or €12 a month for access to the service, which also features more than 4,000 music videos, plus band and track background and review editorial. Some 500,000 songs are also available for download, encoded in Windows Media Audio format, for £0.99 a throw. A number are also available as ringtones. All RadioPass subscriptions will be updated to RealMusic.

RealMusic requires the full version of Real Player, which is bundled with the subscription. However, the service operates primarily through a web browser plug-in compatible with the PC versions of Internet Explorer and Firefox.

RealMusic is available in the UK from today, and will be rolled out to other European countries during Q1 2006. Real is perhaps better known for its Rhapsody music subscription service, which currently targets US consumers. Levy wouldn't say when or if Rhapsody will come to Europe, as other digital music download services have. For now, the company believes RealMusic's more radio-like experience will prove more attractive for Europeans. ®

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