MP3tunes, Roku stream iTunes users' songs to TVs

Roku box enables iTunes users to stream music to their TVs. The question is will the labels claim this violates their copyright.

Greg Sandoval Former Staff writer
Greg Sandoval covers media and digital entertainment for CNET News. Based in New York, Sandoval is a former reporter for The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. E-mail Greg, or follow him on Twitter at @sandoCNET.
Greg Sandoval
2 min read

Roku, the set-top box known for streaming Netflix movies from the Web to users' television sets, has teamed with MP3tunes.com to offer users the ability to stream their iTunes music libraries to their TVs.

Michael Robertson, MP3tunes.com founder James Martin/CNET

"For the first time, music lovers can play their personal iTunes music collection on their TV without a home server," MP3tunes and Roku said in a statement Tuesday. "Roku has added expanded support for personal music collections with the addition of MP3tunes."

Michael Robertson, the entrepreneur who loves to challenge the music sector and the founder of MP3tunes.com, is once again thumbing his nose at the major labels. MP3tunes.com already has a copyright suit filed by EMI Music, one of the top four record companies, hanging over his head. Isn't Robertson worried that he's just inviting more legal trouble?

"Well, we're already getting [legal trouble] from the labels," Robertson said. "But I believe that it's your music and you should be able to play it anywhere you want. This is just another spoke in the wheel I'm trying to build. I'm trying to get your music to you on your phone. I'm getting it to you in your home. I'm eventually going to get it to you in your car."

But why do I need to stream music to my TV. Can't I go down to RadioShack or Best Buy and buy speakers for my computer or some system that will allow me to plug in my iPod or iPhone?

"Most people have beautiful home entertainment systems," Robertson told CNET. "The best speakers in their house are usually the ones in those systems."

Robertson, the founder of the controversial and groundbreaking music service MP3.com (now owned by CNET), is a well-known digital-music pioneer. But what is less well-known is that Robertson was also among the first to promote the idea of cloud-based music.

"We're already getting [legal trouble] from the labels. But I believe that it's your music and you should be able to play it anywhere you want."
--Michael Robertson, founder, MP3tunes.com

Robertson knows that heavyweights Google and Apple are working on their own cloud platforms. Both of those companies also have their own Internet-connected TVs. But Robertson says they are going about it the wrong way.

"Google TV and Apple TV are just big home servers," Robertson said. "That's not the right way to do it. Roku exists today and is based entirely in the cloud. It's cheap and easy to use."

To get the service, an iTunes user needs a Roku box and an MP3tunes.com account. To promote the new offering, Robertson said that a link on his blog will take people to an area where they can buy a Roku HD box and 50GB music storage for $69.

The Los Angeles Times was first to report this story.