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Listen.com Licenses Universal, Warner CD Burns

Online music company Listen.com will announce on Thursday that it has signed licensing deals with Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group, enabling fans to burn songs from both companies’ catalogs on Listen’s Rhapsody music subscription service.

Warner is a unit of AOL Time Warner Inc. and Universal is a unit of Vivendi Universal. Listen.com is privately held.

As of Monday, more than 75,000 tracks will be available for burning for 99 cents per track, including songs by artists like Bon Jovi, Nelly and Eminem.

Enabling consumers to burn songs onto blank CDs marks a milestone for Rhapsody as it seeks to compete with major label-backed services Pressplay and MusicNet as well as several free unauthorized file-sharing services that have sprung up in the wake of now-idled Napster.

Rhapsody said it was the first online music service to give consumers the ability to burn tracks on a pay-as-you-go basis, in addition to paying a monthly subscription fee of $9.95.

Pressplay, owned by Sony and Universal, also offers portable downloads, through a deal under which subscribers pay a higher monthly fee of $17.95, that includes unlimited streaming, unlimited tethered downloads into one’s PC, and 10 portable downloads that can be burned onto a CD.

Pressplay also offers portable download packs to any subscriber of its $9.95 option. With this plan, subscribers can buy a set number of portable downloads, ranging from 5 to 20 downloads a month, in addition to its monthly fee for streaming and tethered downloads.

Until now, Rhapsody had primarily offered streamed music to subscribers from all of the world’s largest record labels and several independent labels.

“Since we first launched Rhapsody, our subscribers have asked for greater flexibility to burn their favorite music,” said Sean Ryan, chief executive officer for Listen.com.

Along with the new burning capability, Listen.com will also launch next week a new version of its Rhapsody subscription service, which provides access to their personal music collections from any PC with an Internet connection.

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