EBay to Sell Music Downloads

Online auction giant ebay.com is taking a cue from Apple's success with iTunes (which recently sold its 100-millionth download), and has launched a six-month pilot program which it hopes will attract the interest of both major recording labels as well as smaller, independent record producers and individual bands wishing to offer songs for download to consumers.

The hesitancy on eBay's part to fully launch the download program, rather than simply run a pilot to evaluate the demand for it, is natural, as the market for paid MP3 downloads is still developing, but is already dominated by a number of key players.

While some industry analysts do not expect eBay to threaten the sales enjoyed by established music-centric powerhouses like iTunes, or Napster, others feel that eBay's demographically broad and affluent user base (already accustomed to purchasing records, tapes, and CDs there) will translate into healthy profits.

Individuals shouldn't be in a rush to populate eBay with offers of MP3 downloads for a fee, however, as merchants selected for this category will be monitored as to their authority to sell the content that they are offering, can provide the level of service that eBay customers have come to demand, and have effective copyright protection mechanisms in place.

According to a statement on eBay's website, "After 180 days we will evaluate the pilot and determine whether to enable other copyright owners or resellers of downloadable media to list in eBay's Digital Downloads category if they meet certain criteria that will ensure copyright protection, service level agreements and safety," adding "Approved sellers in this pilot have represented to eBay that they are the rights owner or have contractual permission from the rights owner to resell the listed media."

The pilot program will only be tested at ebay.com, while regional overseas versions of the site will have to wait until the results of the test are in before getting a possible chance at the new music download service.