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Pressplay On Track To Launch This Fall

Pressplay, a online music joint venture between recording giants Vivendi Universal’s Universal Music and Sony Corp.’s Sony Music, is still on track to launch this fall, a spokesman said Friday.

The Pressplay spokesman declined to comment on a specific launch date for the service, which was originally earmarked to launch in September by Vivendi Executive Vice President Edgar Bronfman Jr at an industry conference in July.

Many of Pressplay’s employees are based in New York City, where business has been severely disrupted by the attacks on the World Trade Center, the spokesman said.

Pressplay and MusicNet, a competing music joint venture, MusicNet, backed by software company RealNetworks Inc., AOL Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Music, EMI Group Plc and Bertelsmann AG’s BMG, were formed to fill the void left by song-swap service Napster.

Napster has been virtually shut down as a result of an industry-wide copyright infringement lawsuit.

Both MusicNet and Pressplay are expected to launch sometime this fall. MusicNet is planning within weeks to deliver its technology platform to distribution partners like AOL and RealNetworks in the first step toward a full consumer launch of the new service for subscribers.

MusicNet is expected to be available to consumers within 60 days, sources said.

Pressplay is set to launch on Microsoft Corp.’s MSN, Yahoo Inc. and MP3.com, a unit of France’s Vivendi Universal. The service will also market directly to customers, offering a selection of somewhere between 70,000 and 100,000 songs.

MusicNet is a business-to-business venture, selling both technology and its content to partners such as AOL, RealNetworks and Napster.

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