Eminem and U2 are just two of 18 Internet-shy artists who are making their tunes available on Apple's new Music Store service. These artists have never sanctioned the release of their music for downloading, even on legal, record industry-sponsored services like MusicNet, Rhapsody, and Pressplay. Music Store boasts a library of 200,000 songs from all of the five major record labels, and hopes to be the cheapest and simplest legal alternative to file-swapping services like KaZaA. ''It's not free, but it's 99 cents a song, pretty doggone close,'' Apple CEO Steve Jobs said on Monday at a press conference announcing the service. ''There's no legal alternative that's worth beans.''
Unlike MusicNet and Pressplay, which charge monthly subscription fees for streaming audio plus extra for burning downloads onto CDs, Music Store charges less than a dollar per song and no subscription fee. Hilary Rosen, head of the Recording Industry Association of America and the industry's chief anti-piracy lobbyist, tells the New York Times she's confident that ''the Apple system has the potential to do for music sales what the Walkman did for the cassette.''
Users can burn a tune as many times as he or she wants, or transfer it to Apple's popular iPod portable mp3 players. (Apple is also introducing a new iPod on Friday that's thinner and can hold up to 7,500 songs.) While the service is designed for user-friendliness with the iPod, Apple says that a Windows version will be available by the end of the year. As Alanis Morissette said in a taped presentation at the press conference: ''No one is being left behind.''