Yes, it’s the same LimeWire we all know as the popular peer-to-peer client that’s opened its own music store. It will be offering all of it’s track sans DRM, at a blasting $0.27 per track, provided you go with their subscription model. The top of the bill ‘Platinum’ model costs $19.99 a month and will enable you to download 75 tracks. Subscription is not mandatory, users can still purchase tracks separately for $0.99, a price common to most online music stores.
The initial store will be loaded up with some 500,000 tracks, all encoded at 256 kbps in MP3 (VBR). Also, their LimeWire client will soon be updated to integrate the store, alongside the regular file-sharing feature-set. International customers will have to sit tight for now, though, since clientele is currently limited to the US, due to licensing issues.
What makes this store interesting isn’t the fact that it’s DRM-free or downright dirt cheap, it’s the irony of it all. LimeWire is – after all – one of the leading platforms for illegal music downloading. Their motivation for the music store:
“We think purchase links should appear alongside Gnutella search results, similar to how Google keeps sponsored links separate. We believe a significant number of users will choose to purchase content if the presentation is convenient and unobtrusive, the price is right, and the product isn’t hindered by DRM.”
I think they may have a point, but is their price low enough to overcome the threshold of filesharing? Or are they trying to white-wash their image for some obscure reason?