RealNetworks makes move into music biz


RealNetworks formed a venture with AOL Time Warner Inc., Bertelsmann AG, EMI Group to create a new platform for delivery of online music subscription services dubbed MusicNet.

Under terms of the deal revealed late Tuesday, RealNetworks, EMI, Bertelsmann, and AOL Time Warner will each own a minority stake in MusicNet. EMI Recorded Music, BMG Entertainment, and Warner Music Group will each separately license their music to MusicNet on a non-exclusive basis.

MusicNet will function as technology provider and a music clearinghouse, operating as a standalone company and licensing its platform to companies seeking to sell music subscription services under their own brands. America Online and RealNetworks are the initial licensing companies, with each planning to launch branded online subscription services later this year.

It will hardly be alone: Microsoft will reportedly unveil its own online subcrition music venture later this week. Others are certain to follow, including a chastened, but newly legitimate Napster. - Richard Tedesco