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RealTime IT News

Real Gets Rolling Stones; Best Buy Deal

The Rolling Stones, one of only a handful of big-name music acts absent from the legal digital music services, has put the majority of its songs online as part of a deal between EMI Music and RealNetworks .

RealNetworks, which just closed a $36 million acquisition of Listen.com, gets a two-week exclusive window to hawk Rolling Stones tracks on the Rhapsody music subscription service.

The Seattle-based RealNetworks the Rolling Stones' EMI Music/Virgin Records recordings would be available for streaming and for purchase as individual tracks on Rhapsody through the end of August. Initially, the deal puts 18 classic Stones albums up for download -- ranging from Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main Street to Bridges to Babylon and Steel Wheels -- and hundreds of individual tracks released by the band since 1971.

The Stones tracks is expected to be integrated into Rhapsody add-on features which include custom Web radio stations, pre-programmed stations and editorial content.

After the exclusive two-week window ends in early September, The Rolling Stones' EMI/Virgin catalog will be made available to other legal online music sites through EMI's Digital Distribution programs, the company said.

Other major acts that have not yet joined the Internet party include the Beatles, Garth Brooks, Beastie Boys, Led Zeppelin and the Grateful Dead.

The availability of tracks from the Stones could not have come at a better time for the legal digital music business, which has struggled to catch on despite an all-out legal offensive by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) against the rogue file-sharing networks and online music swappers.

The delay in making the Rolling Stones music available online had nothing to do with the band's objection to the Internet, an EMI Music spokesman explained. He said the delay stemmed mostly from the fact that a lot of the group's music was recorded more than 30 years ago, long before the Internet became a distribution option.

Stones front man Mick Jagger has long been a big supporter of the Internet, having bankrolled the Jagged Internetworks video streaming service. In the late 1990s, Jagger's Jagged Internetworks was a pioneer of live cricket broadcasts via the Internet.

Separately, RealNetworks inked a deal with online/offline retailer Best Buy to promote the Rhapsody service through interactive kiosks in more than 560 retail stores nationwide.

The Best Buy deal gives RealNetworks a major presence at physical locations to sell the $9.95 per month Rhapsody service.