Musical cheapskates, take note: the popular Russian download site AllOfMP3.com has been shut down for good. No more albums for £1, no more DRM-free Eminem and no more Moscow Balalaika Quartet in FLAC format. The Russian government, its aesophagus painfully twisted, has caved under pressure from foreign leaders. The notorious music store was standing in the way of Russia being accepted to the World Trade Organisation -- a no-brainer, really.
However, if you think AllOfMP3.com's parent company, Mediaservices, is going to let you wallow in a silent pool of your own penniless self-pity, think again. The risqué media company, which was founded in 2000, has an alternative site called Mp3Sparks.com. The Web site is almost identical to AllOfMP3.com and sells, seemingly, the entire AllOfMP3.com library of music and in the same DRM-free formats, for the same ludicrously low cost. What's more, we've discovered a page on Mp3Sparks.com that appears to be an old AllOfMP3.com page that they forgot to modify -- it still uses the old AllOfMP3 name.
All is not peachy, though. Despite the site appearing to offer the same functionality as its illegal predecessor, it is not accepting any form of payment at the time of publication. AllOfMP3.com's death warrant was effectively signed when MasterCard and Visa agreed to stop users of its cards buying music from the store, and it's quite clear the same stranglehold is being applied here. Virtual gift vouchers were sold over eBay earlier this year that shoppers could redeem at AllOfMP3.com's checkout, effectively skirting around the block on card payments. No voucher method is operating on MP3Sparks.com -- so basically you can't buy anything from it at this moment -- but the $0.20 credit you receive on signing up does allow you to download anything in the site's massive library.
How long this new attempt at global music
piracy will last is anyone's guess. But if Mediaservices goes the distance it
went with its last site, Russia's 'Welcome to The WTO' starter pack might
never hit the country's doormat. -Nate Lanxon