Internet

Musicmatch joins with Canadian telecom

The Internet music software and streaming company strikes a distribution deal with Bell Canada, joining the ranks of Net content companies wooing Internet service providers.

Internet music software and streaming company Musicmatch has struck a distribution deal with telecommunications giant Bell Canada, joining the ranks of Net content companies wooing Internet service providers.

The Musicmatch RadioMX subscription radio service will be distributed and marketed by Bell Canada, and subscribers can pay for it along with their DSL (digital subscriber line) service, the companies said.

The deal could mark a critical distribution channel for Musicmatch, which is fending off challenges across its business from much larger companies, including AOL and Microsoft.

"Most of our business today is driven by people surfing the Web," said Bob Ohlweiler, the company's senior vice president of business development. "Being added to the DSL bill is a lot simpler for people than maintaining multiple subscription accounts."

Other music, video and broadband entertainment companies are also pursuing ISPs as the latest and greatest way to distribute their content.

Music subscription service Listen.com has taken the lead in the music arena, signing Road Runner, Charter Communications, Speakeasy and other ISPs on board. America Online has said it wants to use its own broadband content as a way to attract people to its ISP, using the premium HBO cable TV channel as a model.

As yet, it's too early to tell how much traction these distribution deals have gained. None of the big music subscription services as yet release subscription figures, and most of the ISP deals are still young.

The Musicmatch's relationship in Canada may go beyond most of the others, however. Bell has said it will do television and online advertising, as well as distributing the software to customers. The companies will maintain a co-branded Web site for the service that will go live Wednesday.