MP3.com's indie songs could vanish in shutdown

As digital music site MP3.com prepares to go silent Tuesday under new ownership, mobile media group Primetones.com warned this week that over a million tracks from independent artists could be lost in the shuffle.

Primetones said Monday that it has been lobbying the site's new owner, Cnet Networks, to use software it developed to archive the tracks, but had not yet reached an agreement.

Cnet Networks agreed to acquire assets of MP3.com from Vivendi Universal Net USA Group last month, and announced that the site would shut down on Dec. 2 while the company prepares to relaunch the site with new services and features.

MP3.com, founded in 1997, has sold itself as a home for emerging artists and claims to have music from over 250,000 artists. According to Primetones, when MP3.com shuts down, over 1.3 million tracks from independent artists will be lost.

Primetones is offering to host the music, and touts a "Welcome MP3.com artists!" banner on its site. However, artists accepting the group's offer have to become a registered member of Primetones.com, according to the group's Web site, therefore bolstering Primetones' own artist pool.

Primetones.com hosts music, ring tones, graphics, software applications and other products, which are licensed for royalties.

Representatives for the San Francisco company were not immediately available to comment on the status of the independent tracks. A message posted by Cnet on the MP3.com site said that the company plans to relaunch the site as music.download.com in early 2004, offering "a free music download site that will address the needs of the independent artist community."

As of last Friday, however, some MP3.com artists using Primetones.com message boards were looking into moving their music to the media group's site. One user, dubbed "areaillusions," asked the forum how music could be transferred over to Primetones.com, adding that it would save time for "many people and machines."

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Scarlet Pruitt

IDG News Service
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