MP3tunes.com, the latest brainstorm of Linspire founder Michael Robertson launched Wednesday with approximately 300,000 songs available for download.
The service hopes to compete with offerings like the new Napster (news - web sites) and iTunes, which offer either restricted files for download or a subscription to "rented" music stored online. MP3tunes.com will charge a minimum of 88 cents per song, or $8.88 per album.
"Digital music sales make up less than two percent of the total music business because many consumers know they aren't really buying the music -- they're renting it from a big corporation that controls what software, computer and portable devices they can use," Robertson said in a statement. "A consumer- friendly digital music store that provides true music ownership to paying customers can triple the digital music business almost overnight."
The company officially recognizes that songs are being traded illegally over the Internet, and attempts to offer a warehouse to pay the artists royalties while distributing their work.
In addition, MP3tunes.com will offer a centralized record of the songs downloaded by a customer. If the customer loses a file with a downloaded song, the customer can re-download that song without paying a fee, according to a FAQ on the MP3tnes.com website. Robertson had previously referred to a undisclosed service called "MP3beamer" which would reconcile the need for a centralized file store with the ability to play music at any time, on any device.
More than 22,000 artists are participating in the launch of MP3tunes, the company said, and 300,000 songs representing nearly 30,000 complete CDs are now available for immediate purchase in a 192-Kbit/s MP3 format at www.mp3tunes.com. No special software is required to sample the music and make purchases and virtually any Web browser will work, the firm said.
Artists are paid almost $6 of every CD sold and almost $.60 for each song, MP3tunes.com said.