Melodeo plans music service from iTunes playlists


Melodeo Inc. said Tuesday it plans to help music fans expand use of their iTunes digital music collections beyond their desktop computer and iPod by streaming songs in personal libraries to mobile phones.

Privately held Melodeo, which already delivers Web-based audio clips to phones, said the service -- now in test mode -- would stream songs to cell phones for music fans who provide it with a list of the songs stored in personal libraries that use iTunes, Apple Inc's digital music software.

The idea of the service, which comes ahead of Apple's expected launch this month of its music-playing iPhone, is to let consumers who have digital music libraries listen to digital music on the go without a portable player.

It also lets listeners access songs from their library on more than one personal computer.

Melodeo revenue could be from monthly fees for the service, software download fees, or audio advertisements, said David Dederer, Melodeo's vice president for music services.

But while consumers can buy songs through Apple for 99 cents per song, Melodeo is not selling copies of songs for consumers to store on their phones -- it simply plays songs based on a customer's iTunes list.

This means it can charge low fees as it would only have to pay the same usage fees paid by Web-based radio services, or a tenth of a cent per song play, Dederer said.

"We're doing everything we can to follow the current legal guidelines and standard industry practices where the legal guidelines are not crystal clear," said Dederer, adding that the low price may lead digital music listeners who do not pay for songs they swap with friends to subscribe to the service.

Melodeo expects the first version of the service to launch in six to 12 weeks, according to Dederer, who said he hopes to be able to announce a carrier deal by then.

Melodeo delivers audio clips to customers of wireless service providers such as AT&T Inc. and Alltel Corp..

While the first version of the service is going to be limited to lists from iTunes libraries, future versions will include playlists from other digital music services.