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MusicMatch makes play for Mac users

The company, which makes programs for creating and organizing digital music, has launched one of the first music subscription services for Apple Computer users.

MusicMatch, which makes programs for creating and organizing digital music, has launched one of the first music subscription services for Macintosh computers.

The San Diego, Calif.-based company said Wednesday that people using Mac OS 8.6 or higher can sign up for the $4.95 per month service, dubbed MusicMatch Radio MX, and receive access to ad-free streams of music. The service lets members create personal stations based on artists and listen to programmed stations.

The announcement comes shortly after the major labels launched their paid subscription services, Pressplay and MusicNet. These services, however, have yet to be offered on Apple Computer's Mac systems.

"It's good MusicMatch has looked to the Apple folks and said they're a viable marketplace because it's been a challenge to get software and services to the Mac compared to what's available for the PC," said T.S. Kelly, principal analyst at Nielsen/NetRatings.

Still, analysts said it will take time for people to warm to subscription services for online music, especially since most are still in an evolutionary stage. Paid services including Pressplay and MusicNet offer songs from some, but not all, of the major music labels. MusicMatch, however, says it offers songs from all five major record companies as well as numerous independent labels. Analysts have said that paid services may need a complete music catalog to attract a large number of music fans.

Meanwhile, digital audio company RioPort is working to gain an upper hand over the major labels' and MusicMatch's efforts by offering a portable subscription service, another area analysts say is key in appealing to consumers. On Monday, RioPort sealed a music distribution deal with BMG Entertainment that would give the digital audio company the right to transfer songs to portable devices and other consumer electronics products, such as music phones, digital stereos and set-top boxes.

MusicMatch said that in addition to its subscription service, people can download a new version of its MusicMatch Jukebox Plus for Mac from its Web site for $19.99. The jukebox allows people to play, burn, record and organize music. Mac owners can also create a digital music library from existing cassettes and vinyl records, the company said.

"Mac music fans have the option to subscribe to a service that promises, and delivers, nothing less than a satisfying experience," Christopher Allen, senior vice president of product marketing at MusicMatch, said in a statement.