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MySpace punts 'MyTunes', targets Apple

Direct selling to cut out record companies

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MySpace is to start selling some of its music content, the Murdoch-owned social networking site said on Friday.

In a totally expected move, the adolescent hive mind has decided to make the efforts of some three million unsigned bands available for download DRM-free.

Details are scant - pricing has not been finalised - but MySpace said it should have the service up-and-running by the end of the year.

MySpace co-founder Chris DeWolfe told Reuters: "The goal is to be one of the biggest digital music stores out there. Everyone we've spoken to definitely wants an alternative to iTunes and the iPod. MySpace could be that alternative."

iTunes currently swallows over 70 per cent of the US market.

There's no word on whether content from the big record companies will be added to MySpace's service, but it seems highly probable. Reuters reports industry sources claiming talks are ongoing between MySpace and EMI, for one.

The announcement comes on the back of news of Spiralfrog, the first service to offer free legal downloads supported entirely by advertising.

In fact, we don't seem to be able to go a week without some company or other telling us about how their new music download brand is going to break iTunes' dominance. Frankly, we grow weary of it.

When the brand is MySpace - now the most visited site in the US - and the company is News International, however, we have to take notice.

We reckon it's the record companies that should be more woried about MySpace than Apple at the moment, though. If so-called "MySpace phenomena" such as the Arctic Monkeys and Lily Allen continue to emerge through self-promotion and are given unprecedented direct selling access to their MySpace-addicted audience, where do the big guys fit in exactly? ®

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