Buymusic attempts to bite into Apple biz

Service is first to address PC market in an iTunes way

NEW YORK — Hoping to repeat the success of Apple’s iTunes online music store on the far larger PC user base, Buy.com founder Scott Blum has launched Buymusic.com, an a la carte music download service that offers tracks for as low as 79¢ each.

Service, which went live Tuesday, claims to offer more than 350,000 tracks from both major and indie labels at launch, priced at 79¢ up to $1.49 individually, or $7.95 and higher for albums. That compares with Apple’s 99¢ for one track or $9.99 for a full LP.

Blum is positioning Buymusic as an iTunes for the broader market — running ads that mimic and even parody those produced by Apple. One features spokesman Tommy Lee smashing the classic Gibson guitar that has been a centerpiece of Apple’s print ads for the iTunes music store.

One thing that has charmed users of the iTunes music store, however, is the simplicity and consistency of the service offerings — something that won’t be as prevalent with Buymusic. On the latter service, rules governing what you can and can’t do with your downloads vary from track to track — based on the contracts signed with each label (and, in cases, each act).

Buymusic isn’t the first service to sell individual tracks to the PC market — other Netcos, including Listen.com, offer a la carte downloads — but it’s the first to address the market in a way that closely mimics the Apple model.

That model seems well worth imitating. Despite catering only to Mac users running the OSX operating system — repping market share in the low single digits — Apple has sold more than 6.5 million downloads since the iTunes music store launch this spring.

Apple still has plans to migrate its own service to the PC side by the end of the year, and it won’t be alone. Major players like Yahoo!, Microsoft and Real Networks are all working on a la carte download initiatives of their own.

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