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RIM unveils music-sharing service for BBM

Dubbed BBM Music, the cloud-based service aims to create an ever-evolving library of music that can be shared with other BBM Music users.

Research In Motion is hoping to bolster the popularity of its BlackBerry Messenger service with the launch of a music-sharing service as companies focus more attention on social networking.

The maker of BlackBerry smartphones announced late this evening the launch of BBM Music, a cloud-based service intended to allow users to create an ever-evolving library of music that can be shared with other BBM Music users. The service will offer millions of songs from the catalogs of Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, and EMI. (CNET first reported that RIM was in talks with the major labels to launch a new music service to run on top of BlackBerry Messenger.)

"We have partnered with leading music companies to provide a 'full track' music sharing and discovery experience that will provide users with quality music on demand and allow them to connect with friends on a whole new level," Mike Lazaridis, president and Co-CEO at Research In Motion, said in a statement.

The service allows users access to 50 songs that can be streamed or stored on their BlackBerry. Users can update their library by swapping up to 25 songs from their library with songs from their friends' libraries.

BBM Music is launching in a closed beta Thursday in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom and costs $4.99 a month.

The BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service is an instant-messaging service that enables owners of BlackBerry phones to chat instantly via the Internet with one another. The music service is part of RIM's effort to make the peer-to-peer application a more full-fledged "social experience." BlackBerry last month released BBM 6, which lets developers create apps that allow users to interact with each other from within the BBM-connected apps.

The announcement comes as Facebook is reportedly in talks with Spotify about integrating Europe's top streaming-music service into the social-networking giant.