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CDNOW Offers Music Downloads

Adding to its audio options, online music retailer CDNOW, Inc. Friday teamed up with Atlantic Records and Microsoft to debut its music download area.

According to the agreement, visitors to the site can download music from Atlantic recording artists Sugar Ray, Martin Sexton, The Atomic Fireballs and Jump Little Children. The downloads are offered in Microsoft's Windows Media Player v. 6.2 only, currently in beta. Similar to the popular MP3 format, Microsoft said its audio provides "incredible quality sound in half the storage space of other formats."

The offer runs through the month of July only.

Currently #11 on Billboard's modern rock chart, Sugar Ray offers a previously unreleased live version of its single "Every Morning." The other featured artists are considered "up and coming" stars by Atlantic.

"This breakthrough alliance with Atlantic Records and Microsoft Corp. is another step that brings us significantly closer to the day when fans will be able to routinely download songs from major artists," said Jason Olim, CDNOW's CEO.

While CDNOW said it wants to join the digital download revolution, Friday's offer does have some setbacks. The download is available only to Windows 95, 98 and NT, leaving Macintosh users out of the loop. Also, the downloaded songs will time-out after 15 days.

In related news, the Recording Industry Association of America is expected Friday afternoon to release specifications that show how portable MP3 players can incorporate a device it calls the "blackbox," which screens for pirated material.