In an effort to keep its stranglehold over the digital music player market on the Internet, Netcaster RealNetworks is unveiling its latest player, RealJukebox, which not only plays but records and searches for MP3 music files.

The new player, available for free on the Internet from Seattle-based Real’s Web site (realnetworks.com), will allow Internet users to manage their collection of music files in the MP3, RealAudio G2, WAV and PLS formats.

The player is based on Real’s Real System MP platform. Real said it expects nearly 10 million people to download the player by the end of the year.

From CDs to PCs

Where previous versions of RealPlayer only played music and other audiovisual files, RealJukebox enables users to quickly record their own music selections straight from CDs into their computers — a 60 minute CD records in 12 minutes. Recorded files are encrypted and linked to a single PC, protecting the original artist.

RealJukebox also enables users to search and download music files, including those in the MP3 format, on the Internet by browsing music search engines, promotional music downloads and online CD purchase outlets.

Future versions of the player will also give users the chance to record music onto their own recordable CDs. RealJukebox is expected to keep Real competitive with emerging online audio competitors, including Microsoft’s Windows Media Technologies 4.0.

RealNetworks already controls 85% of the streaming media market on the Internet, including video broadcasts. About 60 million Internet users have downloaded RealPlayer, with 15.5 million using the player each week.