MTV, RealNetworks join hands for digital music

MUMBAI: RealNetworks, Inc., MTV Networks and Verizon Wireless teamed up to create a single, integrated digital music experience that consumers can access via their PC, portable music device or mobile phone.

Promising to be ultra-rich in music culture, programming and discovery, Rhapsody will unite the best of RealNetworks’ market-leading service and MTV Networks critically acclaimed URGE music service. Verizon Wireless’ V CAST Music — the most successful mobile music service in the country — will become the mobile platform for the integrated Rhapsody service.

As part of this alliance, MTV Networks and Real are forming a new company, Rhapsody America, whose offering will be the exclusive digital music service for Real and for MTV Networks’ premier music and pop culture brands in the United States. Both partners will bring complementary strengths, including MTV Network’s storied history in music programming and youth marketing prowess, with Real’s technology, market momentum for Rhapsody, and relationships within the consumer electronics industry. MTV Network’s URGE general manager Michael Bloom will lead Rhapsody America, which will have offices in New York, Seattle and San Francisco.

Real and MTV Networks, through their Rhapsody America venture, have formed a long-term, exclusive relationship with Verizon Wireless, in which the companies will be partners in bringing consumers digital music to their PCs and over the air to their mobile phones. Through the relationship with Verizon Wireless, Rhapsody will be fully integrated with VCAST Music, delivering a superior music service across multiple consumer devices.

“With RealNetworks and Verizon Wireless, we’re creating a unique and engaging experience that also reflects our own strategy of allowing fans to go narrow and deep into the musical genres they love. Any time we can partner with industry leaders like this to create a new music proposition, everyone wins, especially the audience,” said MTV Networks chairman and CEO Judy McGrath.

“Today’s announcements represent a sea-change in the digital music market. By partnering with MTV Networks, home of the most storied brands in music history, and the market’s leading wireless company, Verizon Wireless, we’ll make Rhapsody the premier digital music service that delivers great music to millions of consumers whenever and wherever they want,” said RealNetworks chairman and CEO Rob Glaser.

“By bringing together the cultural and musical heritage of the MTV Networks family with the functionality of Rhapsody and the reach of V CAST Music, it’s like we’ve put the best lead singer, drummer and guitarist all on the same giant stage, allowing music fans to experience the purest music play in any way they want. The new Rhapsody will build on the musical curation of URGE and have the marketing power of MTV, VH1 and CMT behind it, ensuring this new platform is front and center in the hearts and minds of music lovers,” said MTV Networks Music & Logo Group president Van Toffler.

Rhapsody will become the music service of choice across MTV Networks’ MTV, VH1, and CMT brands and their myriad of online youth-culture touch points. On-air integration for the new service will begin next week and Rhapsody will also be integrated into the fabric of MTV’s marquee event, the Video Music Awards airing live from Las Vegas on 9 September.