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Real gives Rhapsody weight with Stones

Rock 'n rollers add weight to service; Best Buy signs on

HOLLYWOOD — RealNetworks hopes consumers can always get what they want in online music, having brought the Rolling Stones’ catalog into its Rhapsody digital music service.

Deal brings the Stones’ entire catalog to Rhapsody exclusively through September, after which it will start to become available through competitors such as Buymusic.com and iTunes. Promotion is similar to an exclusive deal Apple struck with the Eagles when it launched iTunes earlier this year.

And in another move to gain share in the growing market for legal music downloads, Rhapsody is allying with Best Buy to sell subscriptions to consumers via in-store kiosks.

“Both these deals are significant in terms of getting digital music into the mainstream,” said Dan Sheeran, Real’s senior VP of marketing.

Rhapsody is currently available only via subscription, but Real plans to launch a pay-per-download store later this year, around the same time Apple has said it will make iTunes available for Windows users.

Moves come as Real Networks has been dealing with some turmoil behind the scenes. Merrill Brown, senior VP of the RealOne subscription service; Scott Ehrlich, VP of media acquisitions; and general manager of media distribution Leslie Grandy have left or announced they will leave the company.

A spokesman said no specific replacements are planned, although recently promoted Martin Plaehn, exec VP of products and services, and chief strategy officer Richard Wolpert will take on additional responsibilities.