MTV Rolls Out a Mobile-Music Venture

Joins with Real Networks, Verizon for iTunes Challenger

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Two years after launching iTunes competitor Urge, with Microsoft, MTV Networks has a new partner in Real Networks. The two unveiled today a joint venture called Rhapsody America, which also includes mobile partner Verizon Wireless. The deal brings what MTV hopes will prove to be a unique element to the mobile-music space, and will help differentiate itself from the likes of Apple's iPhone and Zune, the portable music device Microsoft launched just months after its Urge partnership.
Rob Glaser, chairman and CEO, RealNetworks, Inc.; John Stratton, EVP and CMO, Verizon; and Van Toffler, president, MTV Networks Music/Logo/Films Group
Rob Glaser, chairman and CEO, RealNetworks, Inc.; John Stratton, EVP and CMO, Verizon; and Van Toffler, president, MTV Networks Music/Logo/Films Group

No PC connection needed
Like iTunes, Rhapsody America will allow users to download MP3 files to their PC for 99 cents. But unlike the iPhone or Zune, which require connection to a PC, users will be able to purchase music for their Verizon V Cast-enabled phones on-the-go -- meaning they can hear the latest Justin Timberlake song on their phone directly without having to plug anything into their computer first. Users will also have the option of "dual delivery," or the ability to download to their PCs as well as to their phones, via Verizon's V Cast music, a partnership previously existed with the MTV Networks' Urge program.

MTV serves as the content provider for the joint venture through its preexisting relationships with record labels for streaming music videos on V Cast. Van Toffler, president of MTV Networks Music & Logo Group, said in a statement, "It's like we've put the best lead singer, drummer and guitarist all on the same giant stage, allowing music fans to experience the purest music play in any way they want."

The pay model for Rhapsody America will mirror the ones already in place for Urge and Rhapsody, said an MTV spokeswoman. Individual MP3s will cost 99 cents, while unlimited monthly subscriptions will remain at $9.95 for PC-only, or $14.95 for "PC to go," which includes mobile. Music videos will continue to be available for free streaming.

Promotional spots announcing Rhapsody America will begin airing on MTV next week, with additional spots and integrations airing throughout the Video Music Awards on Sept. 9.
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