Rhapsody to become an independent company

Now nearly a decade old, RealNetworks' online music service Rhapsody is going to be spun off into an independent company. The spin-off will mean that RealNetworks will no longer have operating control over the service, and it will have no single majority owner.

Currently, Rhapsody is a joint venture with RealNetworks and Viacom subsidiary MTV Networks, with real owning 51% of the equity of Rhapsody and Viacom owning 49%.

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Robert Kimball, president and acting CEO for RealNetworks today said, "Separating Rhapsody into its own independent company is a significant first step in making RealNetworks a more focused and profitable company. Rhapsody will be the largest pure play digital music service in the market. We have provided Rhapsody with the right team, and financial and intellectual property assets to succeed in the competitive market for digital music."

Real expects the spin-off will be complete late in the first quarter of 2010.

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