AOL expands online music offerings

America Online (AOL) on Monday announced an expansion of its online music offerings, including special services for users with broadband Internet access.

AOL said in a statement that it would incorporate Internet radio into its client software and add a service that allows users to look up information about artists, play CDs and download music. The new services add to AOL's existing online music services, which include Web radio service Spinner and music player Winamp.

AOL, part of AOL Time Warner Inc., said it has enlisted several record labels, including its own Warner Brothers Music Group Inc., to power a service dubbed AOL Artist Discovery Network, which, among other features, offers localized pages and a database with artist information. The Artist Discovery Network is available starting Monday.

Radio at AOL (Radio@AOL), a new online radio service with over 50 channels of news, information and entertainment, will be online in the third quarter, AOL said. A button to access the service will be on the toolbar in AOL 7.0, the upcoming version of AOL's client software.

Mimicking the services offered by Launch Media Inc., an online media company that was recently acquired by AOL rival Yahoo Inc., AOL said it will launch later this year customized music services for users with broadband Internet connections. These services will include a radio feature that can be customized and a music recommendation tool.

All of AOL's online music services will have storefronts. Users will be a click away from concert tickets and paraphernalia, AOL said.

AOL will also offer access to MusicNet, the digital music service being developed by BMG Entertainment Inc., RealNetworks Inc., EMI Group PLC and AOL Time Warner's Warner Brothers Music Group Inc. MusicNet, scheduled to launch later this year, is headed by Rob Glaser, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of RealNetworks.

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