More vendors join online music frenzy

Sanyo Electric has become the latest Japanese consumer electronics maker to hop on the Internet music bandwagon with the announcement that the company will begin selling a Net music player early next year.

Sanyo's player, which has yet to be named, will allow users to download songs from the Internet onto a semiconductor-based memory card, according to a company spokeswoman. In order to download music, users will have to plug the portable player into a Net-connected PC or a special terminal Sanyo plans to deploy in convenience stores, music stores and libraries around Japan, she added.

Sanyo's player will be equipped with SP3 (Secure Portable Player Platform) security technology from Liquid Audio, according to a statement.

The device will support a wide range of current encoding technologies, including MP3, Dolby Digital, and Lucent Technologies' ePAC (enhanced Perceptual Audio Coder), the statement said.

In related news, Warner Music Japan has announced it will set up a strategy committee to consider how to launch at least part of its vast repository of music online.

"Packaged music sold in stores will continue to be our main business, and at the same time we will start to do more on the Net," said Warner spokesman Seiichi Inoue.

He emphasised that Warner has not yet worked out the details of its Internet strategy, but will initially focus on bringing lesser known artists to the Net. The company hopes to have its system to sell online songs up and running by the end of the year, Inoue said.

While Japan has been somewhat slow to embrace the Internet music craze, a flurry of announcements over the past few months suggest that local music companies and electronics vendors here are finally feeling the lure of the money to be made online.

Sony Music Entertainment (Japan), the largest record producer in Japan, announced earlier this month that it will begin selling music over the Internet by the end of this year.

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