Liquid Audio sets Christian music download service

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Online music service Liquid Audio Inc. Monday will launch its entry into the growing online subscription music market, focusing
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Online music serviceLiquid Audio Inc. Monday will launch its entry into the growingonline subscription music market, focusing on a niche largelyignored in the new generation of digital downloads: Christianmusic.

Redwood City, California-based Liquid Audio's service, "Burn ItFirst," is unique in that it will launch with only one type ofmusic, Christian songs from EMI Group's catalog, under a deal thetwo companies signed last year.

Users will pay $9.95 a month for the right to download 20 songs,with an additional five downloads available for $4.95. The 20 basecredits will expire at the end of every month, while add-on creditswill not expire.

The service entitles users to permanent playback of theirdownloaded files on the PC where they were downloaded, even if theuser ends their subscription to the service.

It also comes with the right to export downloaded songs to asmany as five different devices compatible with Liquid's proprietarysecurity format; and to burn any one song to a CD up to threetimes.

Liquid uses the AAC code for its files, which is less common fordigital music than the MP3 format but generally thought to soundbetter than MP3.

The "Burn It First" application runs inside Liquid Audio'sdownloadable music player, and can play other music files on theuser's hard drive, though it will only burn Liquid files to CD.

At least three other online subscription services - pressplay,MusicNet and Rhapsody - offer downloads of music from majorlabels.

All four services differ widely, though, in terms of the rightsthey offer for burning CDs from downloaded songs, transferringsongs to portable players and even the number of songs the user isallowed to own at any one time.

^ REUTERS@