(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) —
Michael Robertson, the founder and former CEO of MP3.com, will announce next week that he is starting a new digital music company called MP3tunes. The company will focus on music products and services with an emphasis on the MP3 format to maximize interoperability and consumer choice. Over the coming months, MP3tunes will make several new products available online including a hardware device, software products and an online music store. Robertson will officially announce the new company at the Desktop Summit, February 9-11 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in San Diego.
"When I started MP3.com, the term 'MP3' was an obscure acronym recognizable only by geeks," Robertson said. "Back then, we had to battle for the legality of MP3 players. But because of those early efforts, consumers now have a spectacular array of portable players to choose from.
"Today, certain market forces are trying to drive consumers away from MP3 towards proprietary systems, which lock out some consumers and force everyone to buy a particular company's player or software program. I wanted consumers to have more options, so I felt compelled to reenter the music space to bring the limelight back to MP3."
Robertson will unveil MP3tune's first service — an online music store focusing on high-quality music downloads — at the Desktop Summit. Unlike other popular music stores, MP3tunes will offer all tracks without digital rights management (DRM). This ensures that paying customers can use the music they purchase on any player or computer as well as make unlimited copies of their songs and burn their music onto CDs.
The founding of MP3tunes comes three years after Robertson stepped down as the CEO of MP3.com. San Diego-based MP3.com was founded in 1997 and grew to nearly 300 employees, becoming the largest digital music site on the Web with more than 1,000,000 songs from 250,000 artists and hundreds of thousands of unique daily visitors. Vivendi Universal purchased the profitable company in 2001 for $372 million in stock and cash.
MP3tunes is the third venture for Robertson since he sold MP3.com. In 2001, Robertson founded Linspire, Inc., a company that produces the Linspire desktop Linux operating system, which has been gaining market share from the popular Microsoft Windows. In 2003, he also founded SIPphone, Inc., a VoIP technology company that competes with traditional phone systems. –Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen