MTVi to Launch Paying Music Download Service

MTVi and RioPort.com are to offer paid music downloads from all five major record labels. The paying download music service, available at Radio MTV.com and VH1atWork Radio, launches with a catalogue of 8,000 songs. Singles will cost between 99 cents and $1.99, and albums $11.98 to $18.98.

MTVi and RioPort join a number of companies, including Real Networks and Microsoft, offering commercial music services online in response to the huge popularity of Napster.

RioPort will receive content directly from the labels through XML feeds using Microsoft and Microsoft and Intertrust DRM tools, and desktop security software. While security is a top priority for the music service, "DRM is not about creating Fort Knox," said Jim Long, RioPort CEO. "It's more like the way a car key protects a car."

MTV and RioPort began negotiating with record companies in October while their legal challenge with Napster was unfolding. "Napster is a side show," said Jim Long, RioPort CEO. "The record labels have been making steady progress in terms of their plans for online distribution."

The MTVi announcement follows the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on digital music. Alanis Morrisette and Don Henley argued that Napster had worked in favor of most artists. Napster CEO Hank Barry called on Congress to create a compulsory online license to compensate record companies, like the licenses now used for radio stations.

Frank Haussman, CEO of CenterSpan Communications, said at the hearing, that current DRM technologies could create a secure environment for online distribution. Online licenses are appropriate for streaming but not downloading, said Hausmann. But Jim Long said that consumers will not care about the stream/download distinction, wanting a variety of options.

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