Yahoo will launch a trial version of Yahoo Music Unlimited today.
The company has chosen to push the service on the basis of price. For an introductory price of $59.88 a year, (or $6.99monthly), the service will give users access to over 1 million songs from all major record labels and most independent labels, Yahoo said.
With its pricing, Yahoo is undercutting rivals RealNetworks and Napster, which both charge about $15 a month for comparable services. iTunes, the biggest online music store, doesn't offer subscriptions but charges users per song or album download.
Windows Media only
Yahoo will offer tracks in Microsoft's Windows Media Audio (WMA) format encoded at 192kbps (bits per second). Users can also transfer music to digital media players that support Microsoft's latest digital rights management (DRM) technology.
Digital media players that support the Microsoft technology, known as Janus, include iRiver's H10, Dells DJ and Creative Technology's Zen Micro. iPods don't support Microsoft's technology.
Yahoo Music Unlimited also will offer songs for purchase for $0.99 a track. Subscribers will be able to purchase and permanently own tracks for $0.79 each. Purchased songs can be burned onto a CD, transferred to portable devices and used on a total of five PCs, according to Yahoo.
Yahoo Music Unlimited includes the Yahoo Music Engine, software that will let users manage their music collection. Users will also be able to share their music with others via Yahoo Messenger and will get access to Yahoo's LAUNCHcast online radio service, Yahoo said.
The new music service is Yahoo's latest online music move. The company acquired MusicMatch last year, and these products will be merged with Yahoo's service eventually.
Yahoo Music Unlimited will be released in beta version first and will initially only be available in the US.