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Skeptics who doubt the viability of digital music distribution via the Net should monitor the progress of this early experiment in pay-per-download MP3.

E-music may well have hit on an idea that will leave rival choking on their dust. Instead of giving away MP3 files for free and relying on advertising to generate revenues, E-music charges users for downloads - typically .99 cents for a single track or 8.99 for a whole album in either MP3 or RealAudio Format.

This strategy has had it's advantages. E-music has able to attract many of the labels that have avoided like the plague. Another result has been a small but growing revenue stream that's likely to increase significantly as major electronics manufacturers like Sony push ahead with the planned release of personal MP3 players in time for the holidays.

While the pay-per-download strategy has won some praise from music industry insiders, the site has had difficulties convincing the people that count that the MP3 pirating problem is not a mortal threat, limiting the growth of the E-music catalog. But that may be changing.

British superband Bush is releasing an Internet-only single "The Chemicals between Us" through the site, charging fans .99 cents for the file. The ensuing publicity has already generated a good deal of media excitement (think small feeding frenzy) making it probable that other big name acts will follow suit.


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