RealNetworks has launched an all-singing music download store in the UK which also offers radio streaming and videos.
Called RealMusic, it's essentially an extension of the company's existing RadioPass service. This means radio streaming is still its favourite trick – there are around 300 ad-free streams, thousands of internet-based stations and a smattering of content from existing powerhouses such as the BBC and Jazz FM.
Rather than take on the megastores of Apple's iTunes and Napster head-on, its £8.50 per month subscription service is positioning itself as your independent local for discovering new bands, with a focus on users submitting their own tunes and opinions.
It's not streaming all the way, though – there are around 500,000 tracks to download in WMA format and an iTunes-drubbing access to 4,000 music videos. Music tracks cost the slightly extortionate price of 99p each - compared to 79p from iTunes and Napster Light - although albums are a slightly more respectable £7.99. As RealMusic is a browser-based affair, you need to install RealPlayer to sync tracks onto your MP3 player.
The service seems a tad expensive considering Napster To Go's £15 per month offering lets you load up your jukebox with an unlimited number of tunes, while MusicMatch offers thousands of radio stations and downloads for $60 (£35) per year. Still, if you fancy a free 14-day taster of RealMusic, head over to this link. Our contact has said that it'll be Mac compatible 'by the end of the month'.