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Liquid Audio Sets Christian Music Download Service

Online music service Liquid Audio Inc. on Monday will launch its entry into the growing online subscription music market, focusing on a niche largely ignored in the new generation of digital downloads: Christian music.

Redwood City, California-based Liquid Audio’s service, “Burn It First,” is unique in that it will launch with only one type of music, Christian songs from EMI Group’s catalog, under a deal the two companies signed last year.

Users will pay $9.95 a month for the right to download 20 songs, with an additional five downloads available for $4.95. The 20 base credits will expire at the end of every month, while add-on credits will not expire.

The service entitles users to permanent playback of their downloaded files on the PC where they were downloaded, even if the user ends their subscription to the service.

It also comes with the right to export downloaded songs to as many as five different devices compatible with Liquid’s proprietary security format; and to burn any one song to a CD up to three times.

Liquid uses the AAC code for its files, which is less common for digital music than the MP3 format but generally thought to sound better than MP3.

The “Burn It First” application runs inside Liquid Audio’s downloadable music player, and can play other music files on the user’s hard drive, though it will only burn Liquid files to CD.

At least three other online subscription services – pressplay, MusicNet and Rhapsody – offer downloads of music from major labels.

All four services differ widely, though, in terms of the rights they offer for burning CDs from downloaded songs, transferring songs to portable players and even the number of songs the user is allowed to own at any one time.

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