The announcement comes as MP3.com chief executive Michael Robertson takes steps to reposition the company as it seeks to resolve legal challenges from the recording industry. Robertson laid out his plan to refocus MP3.com as a music service provider this week.
"We're building the utility system to deliver music to everyone in the world. And so part of that is working with the high-trafficked sites like About to deliver personal music collections right to their entire audience," Robertson said.
Analysts said the deal offers MP3.com a strong partner because of About.com's brand recognition on the Web.
"It's a definitely positive move because they're leveraging their user base," said Idil Cakim, senior media analyst for Cyber Dialogue. "I see there's a great opportunity to increase awareness of this kind of music downloading process so it goes back to where you can have music anytime, anywhere through MP3."
However, analysts predict that MP3.com's ambitious plans may take time.
"Initially they started out by trying to create music for the Web...Although I think that might happen in the future, it really needs many years to build a collection that will be appealing," said Dataquest analyst Sujata Ramnarayan. "Not everything that is created becomes (instantly) popular."
MP3.com offers musicians a way to market their songs online. The company's Web site has become a platform for little-known artists to get exposure without going through major record labels.
About.com is a Web guide and search service offering 36 channels and more than 700 destination sites.
The partnership will allow MP3.com to integrate its music services into About.com's topic-specific channels, allowing people to access and manage digital music directly from sites that appeal to their interests.
Among About.com's offerings are 160 localized sites from New York to San Francisco. With the deal, people will be able to find local bands that are part of MP3 music.
About.com also has several sites focused on genres from ska to classical and will integrate MP3.com music on those sites. If people go to the jazz site, for example, they will find MP3.com jazz they can download.
"This is one of a long line of partnerships where marketers are taking advantage of our size, as well as taking advantage of our narrowly targeted specific areas--whether it's city specific or topic specific," said John Caplan, general manager of About.com.