A message on the LimeWire Store frontpage reads: “Welcome to the LimeWire Store: We’re so new, we’re beta!”
A little late, but open for business today, the LimeWire Store Beta is here offering a web browser-based interface for downloading music. Even though the same people are behind the LimeWire P2P client, the system is centralized, with the company hosting the MP3s on its own servers.
No subscription is required to use the store and tracks can also be paid for individually at $0.99 each, but there are significant savings to be had with some of the pre-paid plans. The ‘Platinum’ plan offers the best price, offering 75 ‘Download Credits’ for $19.99 a month, which works out to $0.27 per track. ‘Download Credits’ can be purchased using a Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover credit cards.
Right now, the store is a browser based experience for anyone running Internet Explorer 6 & 7, Firefox, Safari or Opera, but in the future the store will also be integrated into the LimeWire client. In an interview with Slyck last year, LimeWire said of the integration:
Our plan with the LimeWire Store is to add to the LimeWire experience–we’re not going to take anything away. We think purchase links should appear alongside Gnutella search results, similar to how Google keeps sponsored links separate. We believe a significant number of users will choose to purchase content if the presentation is convenient and unobtrusive, the price is right, and the product isn’t hindered by DRM.
True to their word, all the tracks are being offered as DRM-free 256kbps VBR (variable bitrate) MP3s. However, due to the dreaded ‘licensing issues’, LimeWire Store is only available to US customers at the moment.