‘Net music service launches

Users can choose from thousands of titles

Launch Media Inc. is expected to bow a new personalized Internet radio service today called LaunchCast, that enables users to act as DJs and create playlists for themselves and other listeners online, choosing from Launch’s library of thousands of digital music files.

The bow of the Santa Monica-based company’s service comes one day after the company announced it has created a consortium of online music Web sites. It hopes to lure advertising dollars and traffic because of its lucrative young demo of Internet users, made up of 12- to 34-year-olds.

Radio service LaunchCast, available as a test version at launch.com, will officially bow in early 2000, generating revs from banner ads and radio spots.

Online ‘teachers’

By rating songs, albums, artists and sampling other community members’ stations, users “teach” the online music player which types of music they want. Highly rated songs will be played more frequently.

Music is streamed directly through the Launch Web site, negating the download of a player, which competitors Spinner.com and RealNetworks force Netizens to do.

Charter sponsors for LaunchCast include the Wrigley Co., Heinz, Ford, and the U.S. Navy.

Team effort

Launch’s Online Music Group has already teamed up with 20 Web sites, including the official sites for groups ‘N Sync, CNote, LFO, the Doors and fansites for the Backstreet Boys, Garth Brooks, Quincy Jones’ Qradio.com and e-tailer MusicMatch.com.

The news helped boost Launch’s stock, sending shares up $1 to close at $12.88, a gain of 8%.

Within the structure of OMG, Launch will purchase the advertising inventory of all participating sites and will use its own national sales force to sell ads. Member sites will receive a cut of Launch’s ad revenues.

As part of the program, Launch will make select Launch.com musicvids and other content, including interviews available to member sites. Launch currently has more than 2 million registered users of its CD-ROM-based magazine, which offers artist biographies, interviews, album reviews and concert info. Launch.com receives 1 million visitors per month, according to Media Metrix.

Other genre-specific sites as well as cyberspots for radio stations, artists and e-tailers are expected to be added to OMG in the near future. “We are excited to partner with these premiere sites to bring together excellent music content on the Web,” said Dave Goldberg, CEO of Launch. “Artists, record labels, music sites, advertisers and consumers recognize the benefits of content aggregation and we look forward to further building OMG.”

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