New Liquid Audio service offers CD burning, mobility

Signalling a new direction for online music services, Liquid Audio launched the BurnITFIRST digital music subscription service this week, offering users the ability to burn CDs and transfer music to portable devices.

The subscription service unveiled late Monday features Christian music offered through Liquid Audio's partnership with leading Christian music company EMI Christian Music Group, a unit of EMI Music.

The new service differs from similar online offerings in that the music doesn't "time out," or disappear from users' hard drives after the allotted subscription time, and users can move the music off their computers to a variety of portable devices.

This new digital music model is one that most major record companies have being shying away from. With burning capabilities, consumers can make perfect digital copies of works that could them be potentially distributed for free. Unlike allowing copying with analog music, the distribution of digital copies represents a much larger threat to record company's business.

BurnITFirst only features Christian music, however, and it remains to be seen if any online music subscription provider would be able to offer the same sort of service with mainstream major-label offerings.

The Redwood City, California, company has said that Christian music is one of the fastest growing genres, however, outpacing jazz, classical and new age combined.

The new service is priced at US$9.95 a month, offering 20 downloads per month. Currently, the downloads are only available in the Liquid Player format, but the service will offer Windows Media support by the third quarter of this year, the company said. Using Liquid Player, consumers burn CDs, create playlists, transfer music to portable devices and combine their existing music collection with their subscription downloads.

The service is now available at http://burnitfirst.com.