Home LimeWire Opens Music Store, Plans to Integrate with P2P: Have They Lost Their Minds?

LimeWire Opens Music Store, Plans to Integrate with P2P: Have They Lost Their Minds?

LimeWire has just opened their online music store in beta form at store.limewire.com. The store which is reported to currently have a catalog of 500,000 tunes, features DRM-free MP3s encoded at 256 Kbps. Although the store is currently a standalone web site, the help section of the store’s web site states, “In the future, LimeWire will be releasing a version of our file-sharing software optimized for integration with the Music Store. Stay tuned!” But how will LimeWire, still under attack from the RIAA, succeed where Napster has failed?

On the surface, LimeWire’s online store looks sleek and shiny, like any other new web service site. The tunes are affordable, at 99 cents per song or you can sign up for the subscription service. There are even a handful of “big name” artists on board, like Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan, thanks to Nettwerk Productions and IRIS Distribution, the two distributors currently on board.

LimeWire Store

The site claims that they will be adding thousands more tracks per day, but the big question is: from where?

It wasn’t that long ago that the RIAA went after LimeWire’s P2P service, claiming “LimeWire has sat back and continued to reap profits on the backs of the music community.” LimeWire countersued, claiming antitrust violations among other things, claims which the judge in the matter promptly dismissed.

And today, the RIAA case against LimeWire continues (Arista vs. LimeWire). The current status has fact depositions and expert reports as needing to be provided to the court by March 31st, 2008; rebuttal reports are to be provided by April 30th and expert depositions by May 31st. By the looks of it, this case will be ongoing for quite some time.

So where does LimeWire expect to get all the tracks from? It seems highly unlikely that the same industry that is still involved in a hot lawsuit against LimeWire’s P2P software is going to hand over rights to songs that will soon be integrated with that very same P2P software.

Even Napster, which re-launched with support of the recording industry offering legit tunes, has yet to pull off a successful online store. As of January 2008, the company was showing a nearly $10 million loss in the most recent quarter, giving it only 18 months to until it will need another cash infusion or go bankrupt. (It’s also a bad sign when the CFO resigns, as did Nand Gangwani in Dec. 2007).

So, LimeWire expects to not only do what Napster could not, but do so without the support of the record labels and while being sued? Who are they kidding?

My advice, stick with Amazon for your DRM-free tunes, but if you must sample LimeWire, at least forgo the subscription plan. Something tells me they aren’t going to make it.

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