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musicmaker.com's Kiosks Focus On Retail Stores

musicmaker.com this week announced plans to debut 25 kiosks in 20 cities under test-marketing agreements with music retailers Tower Records, Transworld Entertainment and Wherehouse Music.

"Conducting this test with the leading music retailers in brick and mortar confirms the continued commitment of the industry to meeting the needs of the consumer through traditional distribution channels," said Bob Bernardi, chairman and co-CEO of musicmaker.com.

The musicmaker.com kiosk is a compact, standalone unit with a touchscreen monitor and technology that requires only a standard phone line and an electrical outlet. The kiosk features on-screen animation with voice direction, that talks the consumer through each step in the music purchasing process.

The system allows a customer to choose music from thousands of tracks drawn from musicmaker.com's total library of 200,000 songs. All tracks in the kiosk are available for audio preview on the system. Each kiosk is, in effect, a scaled-down version of the patented custom CD production system that powers musicmaker.com's popular Web-based service.

The unit can also make musical suggestions for gifts, most popular artists and most popular tracks based on the personal tastes of each consumer. The first five tracks cost $9.95, and additional tracks are $1 each. To further personalize the CD, the customer can add a title and a graphic for the CD's label. The kiosk will accept both cash and credit cards for payment. When the consumer's personal CD is ready (usually in five minutes or less), the customer will also receive a jewel case and a tray card listing all of their chosen tracks.

musicmaker.com's retail kiosks will also allow consumers to securely download digital music files directly into portable devices and portable media. Because the kiosk's digital tracks are stored locally, consumers without high-speed Internet access at home will have a quick and convenient way to buy digital tracks. Initially, musicmaker.com's kiosks will support the download of "Secure MP3" files into the Diamond Rio 500, with additional secure formats and players coming online as they become available.

Bernardi also announced that musicmaker.com is working to complete an agreement with The Smithsonian Institution to install, operate and test musicmaker.com's kiosks at selected Smithsonian Institution Museum locations in Washington D.C. The museum kiosks will feature songs from more than 32,000 tracks in the Smithsonian/Folkways Collection of historic American music, from premier American artists in the folk, roots, jazz, blues, rock, R&B and classical genres, which musicmaker.com has licensed.

"We are tremendously excited about this program with the Smithsonian Institution," said Bernardi. "Visitors from around the globe enjoying the world's finest Museums and Institution will be able to easily acquire their own personalized piece of music Americana, directly from the musicmaker.com kiosks, while they wait."

Starting Dec. 1, the kiosks will begin appearing in the following U.S. cities: Boston; Washington D.C.; Arlington, Va.; San Diego; Los Angeles (Pasadena & Manhattan Beach); New York City (Rockefeller Center and Lincoln Center); Santa Barbara, Calif.; South Beach, Fla.; Albany and Victor, N.Y.; Gaithersburg, Md.; Elizabeth and Hackensack, N.J.; Bellevue, Wash.; and West Covina, Davis, and Concord, Calif.

There are also plans to install kiosks in Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, and Kansas City. It is expected that additional agreements will be announced sometime in the near future. musicmaker.com will program music for sale at the kiosks tailored to the specific interests and consumer preferences of not only the region, but each individual store location.