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Drumbeat builds for launch of Beats Music

Pandora Media, Inc.The Ellen DeGeneres Show (tv program)Apple iTunes RadioSpotify

The long-anticipated Beats Music service, from veteran music executive Jimmy Iovine and rapper Dr. Dre, is on the launch pad, with AT&T touting a new family plan.

Beats Music, set to launch on Jan. 21, will vie with Pandora, Spotify and Apple's iTunes Radio for listeners in the digital era. As digital download sales have reached a plateau, after more than a decade of growth, such streaming music services have become a major focus of the industry -- and the fastest-growing part of the business.

The digital newcomer will seek to capitalize on its celebrity pedigree, and the chic of its $1-billion Beats by Dre headphone business, to differentiate its service from more established players. For $10 a month, subscribers will gain access to a vast music catalog -- and playlists assembled by celebrities as well as veteran programmers.

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AT&T has begun to tout the new music offering, promoting a family plan for $15 a month that would allow up to five family members access to unlimited streaming and downloads on as many as 10 devices. Individual customers get the same tunes and playlists for a $10 monthly fee.

Noise around Beats Music is likely to build in the coming weeks, with a planned Super Bowl ad and promotions on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show."

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