IBM Tuning in to Online Music Forms Duet with RealNetworks
NEW YORK -- IBM is partnering with a major Internet software company in a deal that could help the recording industry attack the growing availability of free or inexpensive music over the World Wide Web.
IBM's deal with RealNetworks, announced yesterday, creates a formidable new competitor in the race to create a technological standard for delivering music across the Internet, while at the same time giving the recording industry a share of the proceeds.
Existing technologies have allowed artists to distribute their music over the Internet without help from record labels. In addition, bootleggers are distributing pirated music, depriving established artists and their labels of royalties.
The IBM-RealNetworks announcement came just one day before Microsoft, a major competitor, introduces its own Internet music system today.
IBM said it would test a system in June that combines its technology with RealNetworks software, which already is used by more than 55 million people to play music, listen to radio and watch video over the Internet. The new system targets computer users who get Internet access across telephone lines, the most common avenue to the Web.
IBM and RealNetworks said they haven't yet decided on a method to allow consumers to conveniently play back the music -- such as a Walkman-style gadget -- and they won't have a product on the market until next year.
Nonetheless, the initiative has the backing of five leading record companies, which are pushing aggressively to get a piece of future online sales of music and develop security standards for digital music. It builds on an existing test by IBM that lets people with highspeed Internet access over cable-TV lines record albums off the Internet. …