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Beats Music ‘Locked and Loaded’ for January

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Beats Music on Wednesday announced it will debut its music service in January, kicking off a year that promises to crank up the competition in the hotly contested U.S. music subscription business.

Once online, the Santa Monica-based music service will face off with a number of entrenched players that have had far more time to polish and refine their services, including Rhapsody, Spotify, Slacker, Muve Music, Rdio, Xbox Music and Sony Music Unlimited. In addition, French-based Deezer is expected to enter the U.S. market after having rolled its service across dozens of countries worldwide. And YouTube is expected to join the fray, also in 2014, with a premium, lean-back service that some have dubbed “Spotify with video.”

Indeed, enterprising developers at Android Police have dissected the code for an upcoming Android release for YouTube to tease out the outlines of YouTube’s plans, called Music Pass.

At the same time, few have succeeded in luring a critical mass of mainstream, paying subscribers, leaving the open the possibility that anyone, including Beats, could develop the right formula for becoming a dominant player in a business that’s still in its infancy.

Beats’ latest launch date falls just shy of the company’s promised fourth quarter 2013 debut window, the company’s Chief Executive Ian Rogers acknowledged in a blog post on his personal website, Fistfulayen.

“When I joined Beats Music in January I’d expected we’d get this out the door before the end of the year,” Rogers wrote. “Thankfully I work with people who have patience and are more concerned about getting Beats Music right than pushing it out the door.”

In a bid to whip up pre-launch interest, Rogers urged people to “reserve your username” at the company’s website. A handful of “influencers” already have access to the service to test and provide feedback, Rogers noted, and Beats is “making improvements based on that feedback.”

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