IQ News: Real Noise At Webnoize

Three announcements at Webnoize ’98 this week, an annual conference for the online music industry, will put Seattle-based RealNetworks, purveyor of streaming audio and video, at center stage.
Among the announcements at the show, which is being held in Universal City, Calif., is the premier of the beta version of New York-based Sony Music Online’s Sony Jukebox. The offering looks to be the first major label pay-for-play music site. People who have the RealPlayer will be able to create a playlist from at least 300 songs, proffer their credit card numbers and then go to a password-protected site that will stream the songs. The password times out after 24 hours. Pricing is 10 tunes for $2.50, 22 selections for $5.00 or 50 songs for $10.00.
“This shows that music companies are moving away from marketing on the Web and toward figuring out how to make money on the Web,” said Alex Alben, vice president of the Music Group at RealNetworks. He attributed this momentum in part to market penetration of the RealAudio player, a free app necessary to run the RealPlayer G2, which allows users to stream high-quality audio and video. The RealAudio player has reached critical mass, at 35 million registered users.
Today the company will launch a product called Radio Toolkit, an authoring tool that combines audio programming with advertising, e-commerce and interactive features.
The toolkit contains content programming tools, an Internet radio transmitter, RealPlayer G2 player applications which can be downloaded free by listeners, and tools for managing playlists and databases. It employs RealNetworks’ RealSystem G2 SureStream technology, which takes network traffic snags and other conditions into account when streaming data.
Also at Webnoize, music site JAMTV/Rolling Stone Network, New York, will launch Rolling Stone Radio created with Radio Toolkit. It features 12 music channels available to those who download the Rolling Stone-branded RealNetworks tuner, which includes advertising from six companies, including Mazda, online trader Datek and Web business directory Zip2. The tuner will show artist information as songs are played, linking to info from the magazine’s archives. Music news, chat and content from the magazine will also be part of the product. –Susan Kuchinskas