The developers of file sharing client LimeWire have launched a DRM-free digital music store that serves up 500,000 MP3s, many of them from indie bands, for as little as 27 cents apiece.
Users of the application will eventually see "buy" links alongside options to download songs for free from other users using BitTorrent or Gnutella technology. Those who don't want to install the LimeWire P2P application can already access the LimeWire Store online.
At 256 Kbps, LimeWire's MP3s are relatively high-quality files, which could entice some to buy a given track rather than downloading a potentially inferior-sounding version for free. On the other hand, there's plenty of music encoded at 320 Kbps MP3 and various lossless formats on the P2P networks.
Users can pay 99 cents per song or choose from monthly subscription plans that bring the per-song cost down to as little as 27 cents:
* No subscription: 99 cents per song
* Silver subscription: $10 a month for 25 songs (40 cents per track)
* Gold subscription: $15 a month for 50 songs (30 cents per track)
* Platinum subscription: $20 a month for 75 songs (27 cents per track)