BuyMusic.com To Give iTunes A Run For Its Money

Sub: Single-song downloads cost as little as 79 cents; entire-album downloads start at $7.95.

While a PC version of the iTunes digital music service is still months away, BuyMusic.com has beaten Apple to the punch.

An offshoot of online retailer Buy.com, BuyMusic.com, which launched Tuesday (July 22), offers more than 300,000 songs for download, about 100,000 more than iTunes, according to a company spokesperson. And it sells them more cheaply, too. A single-song download costs as little as 79 cents, while entire albums will start at $7.95 — among the lowest rates on the Web. Most songs, however, cost about 99 cents.

Comparatively, iTunes charges 99 cents per song and $9.99 per album.

The biggest difference, however, is that BuyMusic.com caters to PC users, who comprise about 97 percent of the marketplace.

Like iTunes, BuyMusic, which utilizes the Windows Media Player, allows users to burn their downloads onto a CD, or transfer them to portable music devices or other computers. However, depending on the licensing deal worked out, limits are imposed on how many burns and transfers are permitted, generally between three and 10, a company spokesperson said.

The BuyMusic.com launch was marked by a press conference in New York, hosted by former Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee and Buy.com founder Scott Blum.

Other companies are also threatening to beat Apple to the PC punch. Amazon.com and Microsoft are developing similar a la carte download services, and AOL's expanded music store is expected to include a comparable feature. Online radio site MusicMatch is also expected to follow suit, and a revamped, legitimate Napster, now owned by Pressplay's parent company, Roxio, which purchased the name in November, is expected to be ready by March.

Perhaps the competitive heat will accelerate the launch of the PC-friendly iTunes, which has been scheduled sometime before Thanksgiving.

By only serving Mac users, iTunes has sold more than 6.5 million downloads since it began April 28.

For complete digital music coverage, check out the Digital Music Reports.