Yahoo! Debuts Pay Radio Service

Just a day after settling a copyright infringement lawsuit related to its LAUNCHcast Web radio service, Internet portal Yahoo rolled out LAUNCHcast Plus, its first music subscription service.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yahoo said that LAUNCHcast Plus offers commercial-free music, additional stations and new community features for $3.99 a month or $35.99 per year.

The new service, another step along a long road to monetize Yahoo’s services and reduce its dependence on Internet advertising, was made possible in part by settlement of a lawsuit, in which Yahoo agreed to pay Sony Corp.’s Sony Music Entertainment (SME) for back royalty payments in return for the nonexclusive rights to play Sony-owned music tracks in the future.

Yahoo also licensed future use of Sony’s music and will pay royalties on a per-song basis.

Yahoo purchased Launch Media in June of 2001 for $12 million just one month after the lawsuit was filed by the big five record labels. Yahoo settled with Universal Music Group last year. The other three infringement cases are still outstanding.

LAUNCHcast lets users customize their own Internet radio station or listen to dozens of pre-programmed music channels in a variety of genres. The new pay service offers more stations — 50 niche programmed stations not available on the free service, including One Hit Wonders, Vintage Country, Show Tunes, Classical, etc.

Subscribers to the new premium service also can sample or subscribe to stations created by other music fans, giving them the ability to discover new music and connect with other listeners.

LAUNCHcast Plus also will be integrated into the company’s dial-up and broadband ISP services, which it operates with SBC Communications..

Yahoo also has pledged its support for the pressplay music service, an equally held venture of Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group, and offers a link via its music channel.

There is of course just a ton of competition for Internet radio listeners, but interestingly, a quick search on Google for the words “Internet radio services” turned up Yahoo Radio as the very first listing.

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