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Sony Eyes U.S. Online Music Service in Spring

Sony Corp. plans to launch a music download service in the spring, vice chairman Howard Stringer said Thursday at a gathering of electronics dealers in Paris.

Stringer briefly mentioned the initiative during a presentation with Kunitake Ando, president and group chief operating officer of Sony Corp.

“We believe in maximizing the opportunities for people to enjoy music by making networks much friendlier places to visit and easier to obtain music from – in a legal manner,” said Stringer, who also is chairman and CEO of Sony Corp. of America.

Few details were disclosed at the Sony Dream World exhibition, but company officials said it would be a joint venture among Sony’s music, movie and electronics divisions and Sony Corp. of America. Sony Music’s roster includes such acts as Destiny’s Child, Miles Davis and Dixie Chicks.

Sony will manufacture a line of electronics to use with the downloadable music and license the technology to other manufacturers so that the hardware will be widely available.

In addition to Sony’s catalog, the service is expected to include the song catalogs of the other four major music groups.

The name of the new service has not been disclosed, but it will be launched in the United States and parts of Europe in the spring.

In June, Stringer told a media conference at Syracuse University in New York that the music industry was getting back on the right track by taking legal action against illegal file-trading and rolling out legitimate download services like Apple’s iTunes.

At the time, Stringer described iTunes’ success – selling 3 million songs in its opening weeks – as a sea change in the online distribution of music and said other services were in development.

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