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RealNetworks Rhapsody service gets 500K/day

In the past five months, the service has more than doubled the number of songs streamed to customers each month.

This news comes on the heels of the announcement that Rhapsody subscriptions will be sold in more than 560 Best Buy stores across the country. It represents another month of strong growth in consumer usage of the RHAPSODY service and highlights growing interest in legal online music services and enthusiasm for RHAPSODY’s unlimited listening approach. An average RHAPSODY subscriber listens to hundreds of songs on-demand each month, paying just one low price for unlimited access to a library of more than 25,000 albums of music.

“RHAPSODY’s rapid rate of growth, driven by the successful launch of Best Buy RHAPSODY, our exclusive promotion offering music from The Rolling Stones in digital format, and the continuing success of RealOne RHAPSODY, demonstrates that the consumer market is finally ready for music services that deliver a better-than-free experience,” said Sean Ryan, vice president of music services, RealNetworks. “August’s numbers prove what we’ve been saying for months: legal music services have unquestionably caught the ears of music fans.”

RealNetworks also announced that PC World honored RHAPSODY with a PC World Best Buy Award in its September 2003 issue, which includes a review of leading legal online music services. In 2003, RHAPSODY has also been honored with a PC World 2003 World Class Award for “Best Streaming Audio Service” and a PC Magazine Editors’ Choice Award, that magazine’s highest editorial honor.

Today’s news comes three weeks after RealNetworks launched a new distribution relationship with Best Buy, Inc. (NYSE: BBY), North America’s largest consumer electronics retailer, and joined Best Buy and EMI Music in making The Rolling Stones’ catalog of historic recordings for EMI Music’s Virgin Records available in legitimate digital format for the first time ever. Best Buy now sells subscriptions to the award-winning service at all U.S. Best Buy stores nationwide, giving consumers the convenience of signing up for a 14-day free RHAPSODY trial at any of more than 560 Best Buy stores and through the Company’s Web site, http://www.bestbuy.com/.

RHAPSODY offers consumers unlimited, ‘all you can eat’ access to a broad library of major and independent label music, with more than 375,000 tracks available for on-demand streaming and more than 265,000 songs available for burning to CD. At only 79¢ for any track, RHAPSODY offers subscribers the lowest per-burn price available to U.S. consumers through any of the new generation of digital music services. In addition to burning full albums or custom mix CDs, RHAPSODY subscribers can build their own custom Internet radio stations, listen to professionally programmed stations, and browse extensive music information and editorial recommendations.