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MusicMatch Eyes CE Hardware Deals In Wake Of Kerbango’s Demise

SAN DIEGO — A “near” music-on-demand streaming music service, and a planned on-demand streaming service, could be accessible from future Internet radio appliances if MusicMatch has its way.

With the Kerbango Tuning Service having gone kerblooey, MusicMatch has an opportunity to replace Kerbango as the service provider for planned Internet radios from companies such as RCA (a part owner of MusicMatch), Kenwood and others.

“We’re talking with a number of hardware suppliers,” said a MusicMatch spokesman. RCA, which hasn’t yet shipped its long-planned Internet radio, declined to comment on its plans other than to say it’s still “bullish” on the category.

MusicMatch’s current step-up ad-free subscription service, called Radio MX, delivers “near” music-on-demand service by letting users create their own “stations.” Each station can be based on the user’s choice of 25 artists and similar artists selected by MusicMatch. Stations can also be created to play back music issued in particular years or decades. Music is streamed in 128kbps MP3.

A free service lacks this level of customization and delivers music at datarates up to 40Kbps.

A true on-demand service, letting users pick individual songs to play, will launch by the end of summer or early fall once licensing agreements are in place, a spokesman said.

All three streaming services are hybrid streaming/downloading services in which music is downloaded in packets to a hard drive, from which the music is played back once. The service greatly reduces the likelihood of music dropouts, lets people instantly skip a song they don’t like, and reduces maximum buffering time to only a couple of seconds, the spokesman said.

MusicMatch’s investors include Intel Capital, Redpoint Ventures and Thomson Multimedia.