PassAlong Networks(TM), a new company launching today, announced the debut of its digital music download service and sharing network, marked by the company’s launch of the first digital music storeon eBay to feature music catalogs from the major labels. Simultaneously, PassAlong Networks launched its own digital music store at http://www.passalong.com/. On both sites, consumers can choose from more than 200,000 songs from major labels. By the end of the month, both sites will include the complete digitalcatalogs from Warner Music Group, Sony BMG, Universal Music Group and EMI, for a total of over 500,000 titles.
Exclusive artist promotions will also be featured at both sites, beginning with a current promotion featuring RCA Recording artist Avril Lavigne. Fans can bid on one of two eBay auctions sponsored by PassAlong with the winning bidders receiving a 15-minute phone call from Lavigne and a digital download of her latest album, Under My Skin. The auctions will end on September 30. At Lavigne’s request, proceeds from both auctions will go to War Child, http://www.warchild.com/, a network of independent organizations working across the world to help children affected by war.
In addition to providing an opportunity to purchase and download digital music, PassAlong Networks is building a community for music enthusiasts by encouraging and rewarding legal music sharing. Consumers can send friends a link to a favorite song or a collection of songs by e-mail or through popular instant messaging (IM) services from AOL, MSN and Yahoo! When a song passed through PassAlong results in a sale, PassAlong members earn PassAlong Points, redeemable for digital music at any PassAlong store, including PassAlong on eBay.
“Creating legal, safe ways for music fans to share music — ways that protect the artists’ and copyright holders’ ability to be paid for their work — is an important step in creating compelling, legal alternatives to P2P networks,” said Mike McGuire, research director at GartnerG2. “Services that can meet music fans’ desire to share music they love, while protecting these artists and copyright holders, will be an important step in building a thriving legitimate online music market.”
“The PassAlong store on eBay and its creative distribution model are a welcome addition to an already vibrant online music marketplace,” said Cary Sherman, president, Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). “PassAlong is another example of a digital music business that is developing new ways to attract fans to the legitimate marketplace. That’s the future of online music — legitimate distribution models that offer music fans high-quality music, a compelling experience, all while supporting the creative process.”
PassAlong Networks says it is committed to providing the millions of future and existing digital music fans with more options and the best digital download experience possible. The PassAlong Store on eBay is part of a 180-day digital music pilot program eBay established to gauge the interest of its 114 million registered users in digital downloading.
“PassAlong Networks’ music download service is an exciting opportunity to distribute our world-renowned artists’ music digitally via the PassAlong Store on eBay, the world’s largest online seller,” said John Esposito, president, WEA Corp., Warner Music Group’s U.S. sales and retail marketing company. “As one of the first music companies to set up specialized music stores on eBay, Warner Music Group has long recognized the breadth of eBay’s reach and the importance of its diverse audience.”
“The surge of music downloading arose from fans’ passion and desire to expose others to their favorite songs and newly discovered artists,” said Dave Jaworski, founder and chief executive officer of PassAlong Networks. “PassAlong Networks is reviving the excitement of sharing and experiencing new music by fueling the growth of legal music downloading.”
PassAlong Network’s music download service gives consumers the freedom to share and experience music while preserving the rights of artists and other copyright holders. The service lets music fans sample, buy and pass along songs to friends for review and purchase, building a community of music enthusiasts in a legal setting. Using the Showcase feature, consumers can create collections of their favorite music where friends and the general public can browse and buy music. Consumers can also share opportunities to purchase songs from their digital music collection by using the PassAlong or 1Pass features. The PassAlong feature lets users pass a link to buy a song, album, Showcase or custom list of recommendations to a friend via email or IM and earn PassAlong Points, while 1Pass is a quick way to “passalong” a link to whatever the user is viewing at the moment they decide to pass the link — whether a single song an album or a complete Showcase. With 1Pass, users don’t need to be registered PassAlong members to begin passing music recommendations.
Besides letting people share their favorite music, Showcase, PassAlong and 1Pass provide consumers with an opportunity to earn rewards for their music recommendations in the form of PassAlong Points, which can be redeemed for music. For example, when a PassAlong member recommends a song from their music library that results in a purchase, that member earns a credit equal to 10 percent of the retail price or 10 PassAlong Points. For every 10 songs passed and purchased, users earn one free song download. And, if that member passes the same song to another friend who also purchases it, they will receive an additional PassAlong Point for the secondary purchase. Additionally, members can earn points by passing songs and albums they don’t own themselves, but have seen on passalong.com and want to recommend to a friend or family member who then decides to purchase the music. In this scenario, the passer earns two PassAlong Points based on the purchase of a song and one additional point for the secondary pass.
The PassAlong store on eBay and passalong.com do not require special players or software to browse its stores, nor is there a fee to register or use any of the features. The service is compatible with industry-standard WMA music files and allows users to listen to music with the Windows Media Player and on the hundreds of WMA-compatible devices available today.
To make a purchase, users are asked to download the free PassAlong software, a one-time file download that is about the size of a short song. The software lets users securely download music, access their music library, view purchased songs, review their passing history and track their accrued PassAlong Points.
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