Yahoo unveils music subscription service

Yahoo on Wednesday added a subscription service to its Launchcast streaming music offering, promising users commercial-free music and more personalization options.

Dubbed Launchcast Plus, the service costs US$3.99 a month or $35.99 a year. For that, subscribers get access to exclusive niche stations, such as "One Hit Wonders" and "Vintage Country," and can tune in to music selected to fit with a mood, among other options, Yahoo said in a statement.

Launchcast Plus will also be a standard part of the DSL (digital subscriber line) and dialup Internet access packages Yahoo offers together with SBC Communications Inc., the company said. The SBC Yahoo DSL and SBC Yahoo Dial offerings were introduced last year.

Launchcast offers streaming music, music videos and select downloads. Yahoo from its site also offers access to Pressplay, a subscription service started by Vivendi Universal SA and Sony Music Entertainment Inc. which offers streaming and downloading of music.

Introduction of the new Launchcast service comes days after Yahoo settled a lawsuit with Sony Music over use of Sony content on the service. Yahoo signed a new license covering use of Sony's content on Launchcast and will make a one-time payment for prior use the company's recordings on the service.

Yahoo, just as its peers in the Web portal industry, has introduced a number of paid services over the past year in an attempt to reduce its reliance on advertising and get more income directly from its users. Extra storage spaces for Yahoo e-mail and photo albums are examples.

Yahoo acquired Launch Media Inc. in June 2001 for about US$12 million in cash after a long search for an online music business. Launch, of Santa Monica, California, became a subsidiary of Yahoo, which is based in Sunnyvale, California.

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Joris Evers

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