Culture

RealNetworks planning new music service?

RealNetworks sent out a breathless press release today touting an event on April 26, when it will "unveil a groundbreaking initiative in digital music." The company is pulling out all the stops, renting New York's Radio City Music Hall, and hiring pop-punk band Good Charlotte for a free concert.

What's up their sleeve? No details yet, but the company has previously said that a new version of its popular Rhapsody music subscription service is on the way that will have the same function as the Napster To Go plan. That means taking advantage of Microsoft's new digital rights management tools (once code-named Janus), which allow songs downloaded from subscription services to be transferred to some portable MP3 players. Today Rhapsody is a streaming service, which means you have to be connected to the Net to use it.

This week the company sold its stake in MusicNet, the music service it started with labels in 2001, for $7.3 million. It had long since put its focus on the competing Rhapsody service, however.