updated 01:55 am EDT, Tue August 21, 2007
Real, MTV take on iTunes
Looking to reel in a chunk of the burgeoning but not-yet independently lucrative digital music download business, RealNetworks and Viacom's MTV division are teaming to deliver an online music sales venture that the companies hope will rival Apple's dominant iTunes store. Heralding the end of MTV's "Urge" digital music service, which was launched in tandem with Microsoft, the new store will be promoted heavily on MTV's television channels and apparently carry the same Rhapsody moniker that has been promulgated by RealNetworks. Rhapsody currently charges users a monthly fee starting at $13 to listen to an unlimited number of songs. Like other subscription services, when users stop paying their membership fee for Rhapsody, they can no longer to its stocked music.
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Verizon Wireless will supply mobile distribution for the joint venture's content.
The service faces stiff competition from the deeply rooted and heavily trafficked iTunes Store. In Apple's most recent quarterly fiscal report, music-related sales accounted for 40 percent of the Cupertino-based company's total revenue during the quarter, surging 33 percent year-over-year thanks to strong iTunes Store sales. Research firm NPD also recently announced that the iTunes Store has become the third largest overall music retailer in the U.S. above Amazon and Target.