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Desktop Summit MP3tunes came to life on Wednesday as a rarity in the online music business. It's not trapping songs with DRM (digital rights management) software, and it's not limiting consumers to a small subset of music playing devices. It's also not selling songs from major artists.

MP3tunes is the latest online music venture of Michael Robertson - former chief of MP3.com and founder of Linspire and SIPphone. Robertson's newest company is selling music at 88 cents per song or $8.88 per album. At launch, MP3tunes put up 300,000 songs from 22,000 artists - all in MP3 format. As always, Robertson has tried to stir up controversy by going after the early leaders in the online music market such as Apple, Real and Napster.

"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," Robertson said. "A consumer-friendly digital music store that provides true music ownership to paying customers can triple the digital music business almost overnight."

MP3tunes's model is very similar to that of Apple's iTunes store in that it offers both a per song and per album price and doesn't require a monthly subscription fee like Real and Napster. MP3tunes, however, doesn't wrap songs with DRM software, meaning customers can play the tunes on any type of device be it iPod, Dell DJ or Creative Nomad.

The company is hoping to bring in enough customers to make it attractive to the big labels and their large catalogs. But the pigopolists have been loathe to even consider non-DRM infected tunes to date.

We'll be speaking to Roberston later today about MP3tunes at the Linspire-led Desktop Summit event here in San Diego. ®

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