Music Downloads

Reporter: Bryan Seymour

There's a war brewing in cyberspace and it will be music to the ears of many. Up until now, those of us, savvy enough, downloading music from the internet, usually did so through the website iTunes. 70% of download sales on the net happens through the internet giant but there is a new kid on the block and it brings with it 3 of the biggest record companies in the world, offering the biggest names in music for next to nix.

The music free for all has just begun, guilt free and completely legal. "It takes the iTunes experience and takes it to the next level" says Gavin Parry from Sony. And that next level means shopping for new music on the internet just got a lot easier and whole lot cheaper. "As far as cost to the consumer goes, initially the deal with Myspace, we'll be loading up our full audio and video catalogue for them to be able to view free of charge ," says Gavin,

The world's largest social networking website, MySpace is launching a website offering one of the biggest catalogues of musics for download. In its sights - music giant iTunes. Rebekah Horne from Myspace Music says "Ultimately what were providing with Myspace Music is a one stop shop on the internet, for accessing music, then enabling people to download in a format that can be transferred between devices." Its the big fight back from the major record labels, crippled by online piracy, millions of illegal downloads eroding their once massive music sales. "Australians ultimately don't want to steal music, its about providing them with a viable solution" says Rebekah.

Three of the world's biggest record labels, Sony BMG, Universal and Warner have joined forces with Myspace providing their entire catalogues on offer to listen to for free. Gavin Parry from Sony BMG says "You'll be able to go to the service and stream that music whether it be the audio or video - free of charge. Secondly if you choose to buy the music, that will be in an MP3 format with no digital rights management included on the track which means, you can play it on your iPod."

Like most young Australians Katie Heidke Miller lives through her Myspace page. "I go on Myspace, everyday, just to make sure I keep my emails under control and look at comments." But its not just friends but her fans she talks to. Katie is an emerging artist on the Australian music scene. This new breakthrough means she will now have her music available to the 30 million music fans who use the Myspace site, five million registered users in Australia alone.

"I just think the way that musicians can access fans directly now through the internet, is pretty incredible. I get so many emails and most of them come through Myspace and its a great place for people to discover new music as well" adds Katie. She calls Myspace Music the great equalizer for musicians and fans alike. "You get direct contact with your fans so there's no sort of filter, there's no gate keepers, its there for everyone to see" says Katie.

It's a far cry from the way we shopped for music only a few years ago."Five or ten years ago we were still locked in a physical world, so it was about going to music stores, now the great thing is if you want a track and you're sitting at a party and you want a track you can walk into the office, get onto the PC and pull down the track immediately - its changed things immensely" says Gavin. Despite the efforts of the record companies, nothing can stem the theft of music. Websites like Limewire and Kazar, still offer downloads of music for free. But does this the breakthrough spell the end of the record store and the compact disc?

Susan Baker from music retailer, Red Eye Records says "As long as there are people who want to take a record home, play it and look at it while they're playing it, have the excitement of that new thing in their collection, we'll be here." Sony still rely heavily on the sales of the CD's and DVD's. "Currently the sales are around 80% physical product, and there are retailers who are committed and doing very well with the physical product" says Gavin. "People are craving that personal contact, connection with a band you get at a live show - thats something that is growing and thats pretty cool" says Katie. And its not just music, concert tickets, merchandise, ringtones and wallpapers will all be available to download from MySpace Music - its expected to launch in 3 months.