As previously reported here, Michael Robertson of Linspire fame has launched a new music company, MP3Tunes. Users of the service can get content for 88Â¢ per song and $8.88 per CD, slightly cheaper than Apple's iTunes service and Microsoft's MSN Music. MP3Tunes are also the first to be offering all content without DRM, something that is seen at most other online music stores.
The service launches with a slightly limited number of tunes from a limited number of artists; currently, from 22,000 artists the service has 300,000 songs from 40,000 albums (iTunes and MSN Music have approx 1m songs a piece). The service offers what it describes as high quality Mp3 files yet its clear that the files are only encoded at 192k; avid musicians, indeed, most people, would notice a serious quality difference not only between the competition (AAC, WMA) but CDs. MP3Tunes also offer a locker feature, allowing purchased music to be re-downloaded at a later point.
Robertson said today "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. A consumer-friendly digital music store that provides true music ownership to paying customers can triple the digital music business almost overnight. MP3tunes gives the consumers more value because they can use the music on all their computers and MP3 players - whatever brand they may have. And it's permanently stored in their music locker, so they never lose the music they paid for."
The site, although adventurous, stands only limited chances of success unless they can secure good content from a variety of prominent current artists and the classic of yester year; quality could also prove an issue as users realise the difference between the services. Although DRM-free music is appealing to users, it's been a problem limited to only few and certainly hasn't hindered uptake so far. Certainly a service to watch, but no competition to the big players at this time.