Vienna, Austria-based tunesBag is opening up the public beta version of its social music service today, after allowing access by invitation only for the past year or so.
The launch has been a long time coming, considering the fact that the startup has already produced a fully functional web client, and Adobe-AIR powered desktop client and applications for iPhone, Facebook and Boxee since its founding in late 2008.
Like Lala, imeem (which both recently got acquired, by Apple and MySpace, respectively) and other competitors like MP3tunes and Deezer, tunesBag allows registered users to upload their entire music collection to the cloud. This enables them to play tracks from anywhere as long as they have a working Internet connection and a browser.
There’s also a social layer wrapped around the music streaming and backup service, which makes it easy for users to share individual songs and playlists with others by e-mail or via social networks, as well as rate and recommend them publicly.
What about copyright, you ask? tunesBag claims it has all of that covered, as it will only make sharing features visible to people who are located in countries where sharing of tracks is legally covered by licensing agreements, as determined by their IP addresses. As a substitute, the service will attempt to fetch the music from other sources (e.g. YouTube to let other people stream songs you wish to share with them). This isn’t fail-proof, of course, which tunesBag acknowledges.
As an example, I uploaded Depeche Mode’s Enjoy The Silence to my tunesBag account, and the public link to it will not effectively give you access to the track I uploaded, but to a video that features the song as the audio layer.
I hardly think this approach is going to stop the record industry from taking a very critical look at the fledgling company’s offering, although they appear to be serious about closing deals for more countries in 2010 (the service is already available in multiple languages, by the way).
TunesBag has adopted the standard business model of most digital music startups: advertising, selling premium services and affiliate revenue.
The startup offers a basic, advertising-supported version of the product for free with 1GB of space, or an ad-free version with more storage space for your music (up to 200GB), higher streaming bitrates and a desktop uploader. The company also hopes to generate revenue from referrals for music purchases, event tickets, etc.