BuyMusic.com launches Windows answer to iTunes

Windows users now have a place to go for legal music downloads.

Scott Blum, the owner of online retailer Buy.com Inc., on Tuesday launched a new online music service called BuyMusic.com, which his company is billing as "the world's largest legal music download store."

The announcement was made at a media event held in New York's Times Square.

The service will offer about 300,000 tracks from five major record labels and thousands of independent labels. The songs will cost between US$0.79 and US$1.29 per track. Albums will start at US$7.95 and go to approximately US$12, a company spokeswoman said.

Music will be available to Windows Media Player version 9.0 users and will come in the digital rights management-friendly Windows Media Audio format, an alternative to the more popular MP3 file format that cannot be used for peer-to-peer file sharing on services such as Kazaa or Morpheus.

BuyMusic.com comes nearly three months after Apple Computer Inc.'s launch of its popular iTunes Music Store, which is averaging 100,000 downloads per day, according to Apple.

However, until Tuesday, no similar service had been available for Windows users.

"The race has been on, since iTunes was launched, to produce a similar service for the Windows market," said Josh Bernoff, a principal analyst with Forrester Research Inc. A dozen more such services will pop up over the next year, he predicted, including offerings from America Online Inc., Roxio Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Internet service.

Because it has a variety of different download options -- for example, some files offer free streaming of a portion of the song and some do not -- BuyMusic.com is more complex than Apple's iTunes, Bernoff said. "But it's still significant in that it's the first Windows-based service that does not require a subscription," he said.

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