Yahoo Japan Corp. has announced that it will expand its online music distribution service, allowing for customers to listen to selected songs in full before they decide to buy. The new service with 100,000 available songs was launched yesterday morning. Competition in Japan's online music services got a lot hotter after Apple Computer Inc. launched its iTunes online music store in Japan earlier this month, and of course Yahoo is keen to keep itself attractive to customers in the face of this. In making this move, Yahoo will be the first company to allow customers to listen to certain songs for free before they decide to buy the music. Existing services only allow customers to listen to samples of songs.

Yahoo Japan expects to earn advertising revenue and commissions from song sales, while it also aims to bolster traffic to its fee-based operations through the new service that is based on an online radio format.

The number of available songs will be increased, the spokesman said.