Yahoo sets dial to subscription tunes

Launchcast Plus, a fee-based online radio service, will let subscribers set up a customized radio station or listen to preprogrammed channels without commercials.

Continuing its trend of charging for services, Yahoo launched a fee-based online radio service on Wednesday.

Launchcast Plus will cost $3.99 per month or $35.99 per year. Subscribers will be able to set up a customized radio station online or listen to preprogrammed channels without commercials.

Yahoo already streams audio, video and music news through its Launch service. But that service required people to listen to or view ads. As the online ad market has diminished, Yahoo and other companies have renewed their interest in subscription-based services.

Yahoo doesn't give out the financial details of its premium services, but it recently said that 70 percent of its fees and listings revenue comes from personal ads, e-mail forwarding, e-mail storage and Internet access.

Although the company may have had some success with its other services, fee-based music services have had a spotty record online. Consumers have shown plenty of interest in digital music, but that has mainly been limited to free services such as Napster and Kazaa.

Companies are still showing an interest, however. Earlier this week, a group of music retailers formed a consortium to develop digital music technology for their stores.

Yahoo said the Launchcast Plus service would also be available through its dial-up and broadband Internet services.

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