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RealNetworks To Give Away Tunes

RealNetworks Inc., facing intense competition from file-swapping networks and from Apple Computer Inc., will give away 25 songs for free each month as part of a new service that seeks to entice music-lovers to pay for more tunes.

Users who download RealNetworks' new Rhapsody software will get to select the 25 songs from a library of more than 1 million tunes, the company said Tuesday.

"We believe that once consumers experience Rhapsody and share it with their friends, many people will upgrade to one of our premium Rhapsody tiers," Rob Glaser, chairman and chief executive of RealNetworks, said in a statement.

For $9.99 a month, users will get an unlimited number of songs each month. For another $5, they can transfer the tunes to selected portable music players.

The prices and features are comparable with those Napster Inc. recently began to offer a portable service.