In an effort to chip away at the Apple iTunes monolith America Online on Tuesday launched a new version of its online music download service AOL Music Now.
Enhancements include a library of music videos and . million audio tracks for download plus a host of new community features. The service also offers listeners more than streaming radio stations through AOL Radio and a selection of XM Satellite Radio channels.
Users can either pay for a monthly subscription or purchase songs and music videos a la carte for cents and $. respectively. Subscription prices range from $. per month for AOL Radio to $. per month for unlimited song and video downloads to a compatible portable music player currently subscription options are not offered by iTunes.
Downloaded songs can be played back from the user's computer or any 'PlaysForSure' compatible player. AOL acquired the Music Now service from Circuit City in November .
This is all good news for music fans says Mike Goodman an analyst with the Yankee Group because it expands upon iTunes' services and offers yet another source for downloadable music.
Things Get Personal
Similar to iTunes users can create their own custom daily playlists share music profiles with other fans and receive custom music recommendations based on their listening activity. However this latest version of Music Now includes a number of new personalization features not offered by its competitors.
But that seems to be where most of the similarities end. Music Now has a new community page where fans of each genre can browse each other's playlists and connect with new music. While nonsubscribers can create playlists you do need to a have a subscription to take advantage of some of the customization features.
The recently launched AOL Music Now developer site allows webmasters bloggers and fans "to add custom feeds of artist album chart playlist and other dynamic music information from AOL Music Now directly to" their own sites.
"Clearly AOL is a leader in music not necessarily a la carte downloads" said Goodman. "But certainly if you think about AOL Radio and Sessions there are an awful lot of people that look to them as a source for music. So this is just making a little bit more of a robust offering for consumers. It gives consumers another choice."