MusicNet sold by RealNetworks, other founders

Online music retail service provider, MusicNet has been sold by shareholders, including RealNetworks Inc.

Online music company MusicNet has been sold to the private equity company Baker Capital for an undisclosed amount, it said Wednesday.

MusicNet, which sells digital music subscriptions, portable subscriptions and downloads as a private label to retailers, was one of the first digital music companies, launched in 1999 by RealNetworks, Time Warner (which at the time owned Warner Music), Bertelsmann, and EMI Group.

MusicNet serves over 500,000 subscribers through its partners, including America Online (AOL), Virgin Digital (owned by Virgin Group), HMV Group and Trans World Entertainment, it said.

Though the full terms of the agreement were not disclosed, RealNetworks said Tuesday in a separate release that for its 40 percent stake in MusicNet, it has received US$7.3 million and expects another $2.7 million after escrow arrangements expire.

Baker Capital, in New York, focuses on investing in digital communications businesses and said it will invest to expand the scale of MusicNet's operations in mobile and international markets. It also plans for MusicNet to continue operating as an independent company with headquarters in New York and additional offices in Seattle.

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Laura Rohde

IDG News Service

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