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Vivendi Universal May Start Japan Online Music Delivery Service

Vivendi Universal SA, which will start online music-subscription services in the U.S. with Sony Corp., said it may start a similar service in Japan.

“We are now considering whether to start an online music service in Japan,” said Ken Takashima, a spokesman at Vivendi Universal’s Japan unit, Universal Music K.K. “We can’t provide further details at present.”

The move comes after Sony’s Internet unit, Sony Communication Network Corp., said Universal Music K.K. invested 19 million yen ($152,300) for a stake in a Sony Communication-led joint venture to operate a music-marketing Web site.

The venture, Label Gate Co., is capitalized at 186 million yen, meaning Vivendi Universal’s investment represents a stake of about 10.2 percent.

The purchase is aimed at consolidating Vivendi Universal’s foothold on online music distribution in Japan. Last week, AOL Time Warner Inc. said it’s working with RealNetworks, Bertelsmann AG and EMI Group Plc to create an online subscription service called MusicNet.

In February, Toshiba Corp. started an online music distribution service through its “Du-ub.com” web site in cooperation with Warner Music. Universal Music is also planning to start a service using the Web site to promote music artists on its record label.

Sony and Universal, which control about 47 percent of the U.S. music market, haven’t discussed specific subscription prices or what software the service will use.

Sony’s Label Gate, which has 17 partners among record and entertainment companies including Vivendi Universal, has links to the online stores of their Web sites so music can be downloaded.

In addition to the Web site, Sony’s unit, Sony Music Entertainment, already provides downloadable music through a service called bit-Music.

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