Realnetworks has joined with Universal Music Group, the world's largest record company, to offer consumers sounds over the Internet.
The move means that consumers will be able to play digital music from Universal's diverse labels, which includes MCA, Mercury, Motown and Geffen records, on Realnetworks' Realjukebox.
Speaking at the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas this week, Rob Glaser, chairman and chief executive of Realnetworks, said the alliance was a "watershed in the distribution of digital music".
Realjukebox allows consumers to listen to their favourite music at their convenience, record CD collections onto PC hard drives, locate and download music from the Internet, organise and personalise music collections and taketheir music anywhere they wish using of portable devices.
Under the agreement Realjukebox will now incorporate a Universal supported music format which will provide protection for artists' rights and allow for digital commerce through Intertrust's rich digital rights management (DRM) technology and Natwest Bank's Magex clearing house infrastructure.
Universal expects to begin offering music online within the next six months. Its labels boast a catalogue of more than one million songs and its artists include U2 and Sheryl Crow.
"We are determined to be the leading force in digital delivery of music," said Edgar Bronfman, chief executive at Seagram which owns Universal. "Our strategy is simple - more music to more people in more places."
Realnetworks also announced an agreement with consumer electronics giant Sony that will enable consumers to download music from the Internet onto Sony's range of portable audio players, including the must have Memory Stick Walkman.
Realnetworks has also joined forces with storage company Iomega to allow consumers to transport their digital music between their PCs at different locations using Iomega's high density Zip, Jaz or Clik! disks.
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