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Hot Topic launches DRM-free music service

Hot Topic, the alternative rock accessories and apparel store, launches a DRM-free music store to compete with iTunes and Amazon.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger

Hot Topic, a clothing and accessories retailer catering to those interested in alternative music, announced Wednesday that it has launched ShockHound, the company's first online music site offering millions of MP3s, band merchandise, music videos, and editorial content.

According to Hot Topic, Shockhound offers tracks from major record labels, like Universal Music Group, Sony BMG, Warner Music Group, and EMI Music, as well as independent labels. The company also says that artists will be able to upload and sell their own music directly to users without requiring a record label to act as the broker between Shockhound and the artist.

"Our goal was to create an authentic, online experience of music discovery," says Betsy McLaughlin, CEO of Hot Topic. "A place where fellow music lovers can come together and explore, share their likes and dislikes, read the latest music news, and enjoy exclusive content on their favorite artists."

One of the unique features ShockHound will offer is its editorial section. The site will feature reviews, music news, interviews, original programming, and music videos that are controlled by the editorial team on the site.

Although Hot Topic is well-known for its alternative rock products, ShockHound features music from all genres, so the service definitely has its sights set on competing with iTunes and Amazon.com's MP3 DRM-free store. But unlike iTunes tracks, each ShockHound song is DRM-free.

For those interested in buying tracks from Hot Topic's service, each song retails for 99 cents and can be downloaded on the ShockHound page.