Gateway installs Rhapsody on all desktop PCs

Signalling a high note for online music company Listen.com Inc., computer maker Gateway Inc. said that it will begin shipping all of its consumer desktop PCs with Listen's Rhapsody digital music subscription service already installed.

Gateway's announcement Tuesday could make Rhapsody a headliner in the digital music market, where a handful of new services are vying for consumers' attention.

Under the deal, the computer maker will install a version of Rhapsody on its desktop PCs dubbed "Gateway Rhapsody" that includes an interactive demonstration service designed to lure subscribers. Consumers can sign up for the digital music offering for US$9.95 a month, giving them access to streamed music from the Big Five labels, over 50 programmed Internet radio stations, as well as the ability to create their own radio stations.

Additionally, Gateway Rhapsody subscribers can burn selected songs for an extra $0.99 a track.

With the popularity of digital music exploding, Gateway wants to be a leader in offering consumers a way to tap into the online music market, Gateway Senior Vice President of Digital Solutions Greg van den Dries said in a statement.

Poway, California, Gateway said it has already forayed into the digital music space, offering free, legal music downloads from its Web site since April.

The deal comes less than a month after Listen rolled out the 2.0 version of Rhapsody, offering its new burning capabilities. [See, "Rhapsody 2.0 spins out with burning, mobility features" Oct. 28.] The San Francisco digital music company is competing against rival services such as Pressplay and MusicNet.

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