Sony Japan to sell online

Bitmusic offering downloadable tunes

TOKYO — Sony Music Entertainment Japan will bow a new business Dec. 20 that will sell music over the Internet.

The company, Bitmusic, will start with a lineup of 44 songs, each priced at 350 yen ($3.40). Consumers can pay by credit card or through prepaid cards sold at retail outlets.

Sony Music Japan, a division of Sony Corp., will be the first music company in Japan with an Internet distribution system. Earlier this year, the company set up a sales system via direct-to-home satellite.

The Bitmusic Web site was launched earlier this week. Service will be limited to users in Japan.

Songs can be downloaded to a computer or to a Sony Memory Stick device that will soon go on the market.

System is aimed at providing maximum piracy protection for artists while giving users the chance to sample music before downloading it.

One major hurdle Sony and other music companies eyeing sales on the Net will have to overcome is the amount of time required to download music. Under the typical connection speed of 30 kilobits per second, a four-minute song takes about 20 minutes to download.

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