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Yahoo expands its music service

Done with its trial run, the Web portal seeks a wider audience of subscribers ready to spend $4.99 a month.

Yahoo's subscription-based music service is now widely available to consumers after a three-month trial run.

Yahoo Music Unlimited is designed to let people play songs, transfer tunes to portable devices or share with other subscribers via instant messaging, the company said Thursday. A beta version of the service was unveiled in May.

The service is priced at $4.99 per month for an annual subscription or $6.99 per month for a monthly subscription. It can be accessed by downloading from Yahoo software for importing and managing music and mixing and burning compact discs. The service is available in the U.S. only.

The low price tag for unlimited downloads is a wild card in the digital music market, so far dominated by Apple Computer's iTunes Music Store and iPod device. Amazon.com, meanwhile, appears to be preparing for an entry into the market, which also includes digital music companies such as Napster and RealNetworks. Software giant Microsoft also has a subscription service in the works.

A marketing campaign for the Yahoo music service is set to debut in conjunction with the MTV Video Music Awards on Aug. 28 and will run until December.