RioPort Inc. has taken its first significant step toward offering music online via subscription, obtaining a license to BMG's catalog of songs. The deal, expected to be announced today, is the second this month by BMG, one of the five largest record companies and home to such artists as Whitney Houston and the Foo Fighters.
Before BMG announced a deal with Listen.com on Jan. 8, it had not licensed songs to any subscription music service it did not own.
San Jose-based RioPort plans to launch a subscription service by March 30, but has provided few details about features or price. The service will enable subscribers to download music, as well as listen to songs from online jukeboxes.
Competing online services don't let subscribers move songs they rent off their computers, but RioPort's technology allows rented songs to be copied to portable devices that use its new software. No devices on the market have that software yet, but Samsung Corp., Sanyo Electric Co. and SonicBlue Inc.--the leading investor in RioPort--have demonstrated portable players with the technology. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.