CNET breathes new life into MP3.com

Site looks to expand beyond tech content

HOLLYWOOD — CNET Networks is picking up where the defunct MP3.com left off, launching a new service offering free music downloads for unsigned artists.

Offering will be part of CNET’s existing download.com, which downloads more than 75 million software applications each month.

New Download.com Music service is part of a larger move by CNET to expand its focus beyond technology content to include other forms of media, such as downloadable games, which will launch along with the music offering.

Although Download.com Music is an entirely new offering, it takes advantage of the large market space abandoned by Viv U when it shut down MP3.com and sold the domain name to CNET. Company plans to separately re-launch MP3.com in the next few weeks with a focus on news and information related to digital music.

Unsigned acts

It’s hoping Download.com Music, though, will be able to recruit the more than 250,000 musicians who offered their songs for free download on MP3.com until it shut down. With the Internet advertising market back on the rise, company is looking to lure advertisers interested in the primarily young audience that will be downloading indie artists’ songs.

“CNET can move beyond just being a tech company to being a home for all interactive content,” said Download.com SVP Scott Arpajian. “We want to expand our consumer offerings to grow our appeal to advertisers.”

Unlike iTunes and its many competitors, CNET is specifically planning to avoid charging for its songs or putting any restrictions on their usage.

Download.com Music has already begun uploading thousands of artists’ songs and plans to expand that figure substantially with the site’s consumer launch today.

While it doesn’t have any specific plans, company is looking to expand into other forms of downloadable media in the near future as well, a strategy that will likely include video as the bandwidth costs for movie-size files decrease.

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