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Listen.com inks broadband deals

Listen.com says it has struck partnerships to sell its online music service to subscribers of two broadband providers.

Listen.com said Wednesday that it has struck partnerships to sell its online music service to subscribers of two broadband providers.

The deals involve distributing Listen.com's Rhapsody online music service to Hughes Electronics' DirecTV Broadband and AOL Time Warner's Road Runner high-speed Internet services. For DirecTV and Road Runner, the deals will allow the services to offer an added perk for their existing subscribers and possibly an incentive to lure new subscribers.

"We are giving people a value added service" that takes advantage of broadband's speed, said a Listen.com representative.

For the month of August, DirecTV Broadband and Road Runner subscribers will be able to use Rhapsody for free as a promotion. DirecTV Broadband, which offers digital subscriber line and satellite Internet access, and cable-based Road Runner will also promote Rhapsody to its subscriber base through e-mail and/or advertisements on its site.

Listen's Rhapsody is the first Internet start-up to strike licensing deals with all Big Five record labels. Although it has struck these deals, by no means is its catalog of songs comprehensive. There remain significant gaps in what Rhapsody can and cannot offer its subscribers because of complex ownership rights for popular artists such as The Beatles.

Listen's Rhapsody offers 175,000 tracks from the major labels and from smaller independent companies for $9.95 a month. Songs are streamed to Internet users while allowing a limited amount of tracks to be burned onto CDs.