Hot Topic launches AIR-based, DRM-free MP3 store
This week, mall-goth retailer Hot Topic opened ShockHound.com, a lifestyle portal that features music-related editorial content, merchandise, and its own little venue for music downloads on the side.
Much like Hot Topic's physical stores, the target demographic is young and unlikely to have their own credit cards. Therefore, to purchase MP3s from ShockHound's online store, users must create a "piggy bank" for their account. Rather than saving credit card information that is retrieved on a per-purchase basis like Amazon and iTunes, user accounts are allotted a certain amount of money from either gift cards, or a one-time debit from a credit card.
Purchases are obtained through an Adobe AIR-based desktop download manager, and the system currently utilizes Amazon's Simple Storage Service. ShockHound launched this week with content from all of the "big four" major labels (UMG, SMEI, WMG, and EMI), and their related indie subsidiaries.
ShockHound's MP3 store catalog is focused on that which falls within the interests of the Hot Topic audience (punk, metal, indie) but includes Rock, Country, Electronic/Dance, Hip Hop, Jazz, Pop, R&B/Soul, and Reggae. Because of the additional social nature of the site, recommendations are made based upon buying habits as well as profile keywords.