RealNetworks has completed its acquisition of Listen.com and its Rhapsody Digital Music Service.
For a monthly fee of $9.95 subscribers can listen to any of the 350,000-track library, but must pay 79 cents to download any one of the 240,000 songs fenced-off for purchase. Unlike the iTunes Music Store, these tracks can be copied only to CD, not MP3 players.
Subscribers can also build custom Internet radio stations, and listen to professionally programmed stations.
However, the company may not stick with the subscription service. In an interview with Forbes, RealNetworks chief executive Rob Glaser says he expects to try an "à la carte" model, which is similar to Apple's approach, “very soon”.
"We haven't even unfurled our most competitive weapons yet," he says. "We plan to get very aggressively into the à la carte model. It's going to be a world where there are a bunch of different models. There are going to be a lot of ways for people to do this stuff."
Rhapsody supports PCs only. It's available on a 14-day free trial for a $9.95 a month subscription at Real.
Meanwhile, Scott Ehrlich, former RealNetworks vice president of media acquisition and distribution, and two of his colleagues have started a new company, RedTie Media, according to CBS Marketwatch.
Ehrlich said: “We aim to do for video distribution what Apple's iTunes Music Store has been doing for music distribution.”