SANTA MONICA, California: Social networking website MySpace is to offer a music download service featuring aspiring amateur artists who want to sell their sound.

The hugely successful site, part of the News Corporation media empire, hopes the service will be the first step to its becoming a major online music force, according to MySpace co-founder Chris DeWolfe, who adds: "Eventually, we should catch more than just the 'long tail' of small-scale acts. This is not just a niche business."

Many wannabe bands currently post their music on the site free to attract the attention of a millions of online visitors. They will now be able to sell it, with MySpace taking its cut.

Industry analysts, however, are doubtful the site can build a successful business out of unknown artists, even if it attracts a large number of buyers.

Opines David Card, from Jupiter Research: "I've yet to see an entertainment company that can be successful by creating a business only out of the long tail, with no hits."

And as for the musicians' hopes and dreams of a rock 'n' roll lifestyle, he adds: "A couple of artists may break through with this, but most of them won't make much money."

  • LONDON: Downloading music to cellphones could be losing its appeal, claims a new survey by Entertainment Media Research, which has found that 11% of UK consumers were paying for music downloads on their 3G cellphones, just half the number who expressed interest in a similar survey a year ago.

    Just 4% of the three thousand people quizzed said they were "very likely" to start mobile downloading in the future, while 44% were "very unlikely" to do so.

    The study found the mobile industry had succeeded in attracting early adopters to the technology, but a second wave of consumers was unconvinced, with 44% saying they were not interested in downloads and 36% preferring to download over their PC.

    Data sourced from Financial Times online; additional content by WARC staff