Amazon joins ranks of online tune distributors

Cyberbiz Brief

Amidst bankruptcy rumors and sliding stock prices, e-tailing giant Amazon.com upped its bid in the online music biz by offering free songs in an effort to increase its flagging CD sales.

Amazon hopes that the downloads — the tracks will be provided by the major record labels — will boost its music sales by letting consumers sample songs before they buy CDs.

The company, which announced that it would lay off 1,300 workers in January, continues to search for new revenue sources in the face of slowing sales. It is unclear if the site will eventually charge for its music downloads.

In addition to downloads, the new music area also offers independent artists the chance to upload their own digital music to the site to be heard by Amazon’s large customer base, who can make voluntary payments for the songs in a virtual “tip jar.”

The announcement, however, did little to boost the company’s stock, which closed at $10.19 a share, down $1.56.

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