AOL plans to be the second music download service backbone launched in Europe, with an online radio station launching now and a downloading service with per track pricing akin to Apple iTunes, to be launched in the second quarter of 2004.
The plans were revealed in an interview with Reuters, and the service would be the first that does not rely on the backbone delivery network run by OD2 which drives the EMI, Microsoft and all other services launched so far.
That network has the rights to about 200,000 songs and AOL plans to have rights to a similar number by launch and is negotiating with record labels and collections bodies now. Previously European music providers have been loathe to offer their songs through online delivery, stubbornly resisting online services due to concerns about illegal downloading. But EMI broke the logjam when it launched its own service through about 20 etailers, with delivery and digital rights managed by OD2.
As a lead up to the online music service, AOL launched Radio@AOL Broadband yesterday as a free radio service.