MP3.com To Sell Net-Only CDs

MP3.com announced Thursday that it is offering a new service, called netCDs, that will allow customers to buy digital music CDsstored exclusively online for access or download from a Web-enabled device.

The Net-only CDs will be housed online in personalized My.MP3 music lockers. The music collections can also be loaded onto portable MP3 players.

“MP3.com has been one of the most aggressive companies about searching fornew revenue streams,” Forrester Research analyst Eric Scheirer told the E-Commerce Times. “It’s probably more of an experiment — it will work forsome musicians, and not for others. It’s not really about the success of anyindividual revenue stream as it is about the sum of all MP3.com revenuestreams adding up to what they hope is a profitable company.”

MP3.com’s new service also lets consumers download tracks from the netCDs to their hard drive, or burn a version of the netCD to a compact disc.

Pricesof the netCDs will be set by the musicians, MP3.com said, and will range from US$3.99 to $30.

Same Old, Same Old

MP3.com said the new service will give music fans “options never before available,”but Scheirer said what the company is doing is nothing new.

“Looks like it really is just selling downloads and allowing downloads to bestored in music lockers,” Scheirer said. “It’s new for them, but not really new in the grand scheme of things.”

MP3.com already offers customers D.A.M. CDs, which are just like regular CDsbut with additional MP3 formatting.

“I don’t think it will be a success on the par of a paid version of Napster,but I don’t think it has to be in the overall scheme of MP3.com,” Scheirer said. “They’ve always been very sophisticated about diversifying their revenue streams, rather than focusing on just one revenue stream to bring them to thepromised land.”

Napster’s Filter

In related news this week, music file-sharing Web site Napster began implementing a new “fingerprinting” filteringsoftware beta designed to prevent copyrighted songs from being downloaded.

Napster will store fingerprint data along with other identifying informationabout the file, allowing the company to build a database “to identify files,and more accurately block those files that rights-holders have asked us toexclude from the Napster community,” the company said.

Old and New Napsters

Napster will not be able to collect acoustic samples from users who do notdownload the latest Napster release, but for now, users of older versions ofNapster will still be allowed access to the Napster system.

According to a recent study by Webnoize, Napster’s download rates havefallen significantly, down 36 percent in April, since it began its attemptsto block downloads of copyrighted works.

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