AudioBase Partners with Sony, etc. for Online Music Previews

If all goes according to publicists' wishes, Web surfers will be able to access music previews beginning November 15 without the necessity of using a third-party software player, such as RealNetworks G2, to play downloaded audio files. Streaming-audio provider AudioBase.com has signed deals with several heavyweight corporate sponsors for the launch of its music previews. Participants include Sony Music, K-Tel, and Levi-Strauss. The deals are being announced in conjunction with Internet audio conference Webnoize.

Recently formed Spun.com, which provides a search function for music with 30-second samples, said it will debut a new feature on its site that lets music fans sample its library using AudioBase's streaming audio service. The music industry, which stood in solidarity against audio downloads earlier in the year, has begun to embrace them as a great sales tool. "The easier you can make it for consumers to hear the music," said Spun.com co-founder Andy Grundy, "the more likely you'll close a transaction." Record-label salespeople labor long and hard to win radio play for their artists, and the Internet is coming to be seen as another, perhaps easier way for people to hear the music. Several acts are using MP3 versions of about-to-be-released albums to tease the market, Metallica most recent among them.

AudioBase's Java-based audio player does not require downloads because the company hosts the music on its own servers. Streaming audio is heard in real time, like a radio broadcast. Downloads must first be saved as files, then be played back by software residing on users' computers, a much more time-intensive process. Music fans can hear the sound from AudioBase with simple HTML "triggers" built into a Web page. The startup is backed by $2.5 million, provided by venture-capital firm Bay Partners.

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