Over the past few years, as sources of free music online cameunder fire from all corners of the entertainment industry, oneservice seemed to evade the waves of criticism and legalhistrionics: MP3.com.
The Web site seemed a bastion of free and accessible onlinemusic, where any aspiring indie artist could upload music files andhave them reach a global audience. The site proved wildly popular,and at its zenith it was home to an estimated 250,000 artists, whoplaced a total of 1.7 million files on the MP3.com servers.
However, the site eventually folded after its acquisition by amajor media conglomerate, Vivendi. The repository was closed onDecember 13, 2003, supposedly for good.
Luckily for musicians and downloaders, however, California-basedCNET, owners of the popular Download.com service, had other plans.They plan to distribute some of the artists and music that wereonce part of the MP3.com domain, and will do so from a subsidiaryof their own Download.com site.
Called music.download.com, the site will feature higher-qualityMP3s in 192 KB format, as opposed to the usual 128 KB that theoriginal MP3.com site featured. The site is still open to allartists, and its free services will be supported byadvertisements.
CNET also bought the rights to the old MP3.com site and plans touse it as a music information center, although the company has yetto specify what exactly that entails. It appears, however, thatCNET aren’t the only ones with their sights set on the back catalogof the defunct MP3.com.
Trusonic, a former division of the site, and independent musicsite GarageBand.com, which offers similar services to those on theoriginal MP3.com site, have teamed up to allow Trusonic’s artiststo distribute their music on the popular GarageBand.com site. Thismeans that GarageBand.com, in addition to having their own 104,065artists with some 102,824 songs, will inherit the up to 250,000artists and 1.7 million songs, formerly of MP3.com, now affiliatedwith Trusonic.
Not only will musicians be able to share their music on thesignificantly heftier GarageBand.com, but the site will offer thempromotion, CD sale, recording, duplication and many more resources.The site also has its own charts, based on the ratings and reviewsof visitors, and chart toppers are afforded radio airplay andrelease on a comp CD. Via the site, artists can even submit theirmusic to a Northwest Artist and Repertoire representative frommajor label Warner Brothers for feedback and critique.
While CNET’s venture has the power of one of the Internet’slargest download services (translating into huge distributionpotential) behind it, it seems that GarageBand.com’s wider range ofservices and partnership with the remnants of MP3.com might make itthe best choice, not only for the unsigned musician, but also forthe avid music lover willing to wade through seas of MP3s in searchof a sonic gem.