Yahoo Close to Launching iTunes-like Music Service

Yahoo! is about to launch an online digital music store, and an iTunes-like player, according to various news reports.

Sources told and Cnet News that Yahoo has been working with digital-music wholesaler MusicNet for some time after its buyout of Musicmatch last September for $160 million.

The Mac Observer was also privey to similar reports from analysts who had been briefed by Yahoo last week. Analysts familiar with the service were shown software they described as very similar in style, design and layout to Appleis iTunes Music Store. Those same sources said Yahoois service would match Appleis online pricing, offering a subscription service similar to that of Napster and launch by the end of March.

Yahoo is developing its own music player software, backed by MusicNet-provided downloads and subscriptions, that it plans to run alongside the recently purchased Musicmatch.

The buyout of Musicmatch by Yahoo brought the Web giant a well-regarded piece of jukebox software, a music download store similar to Appleis iTunes, a premium Net radio service with more than 160,000 subscribers, and a recently launched subscription service similar to RealNetworksi Rhapsody.

David Goldberg, who runs Yahoois Launch digital music subsidiary, hinted in September of last year at large ambitions for the companyis music service."Weire making a big investment," he said at that time. "We want to be the major player in digital music."