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Bebo has added to a big week for the online music sector with the launch of a free music uploading service .

Dubbed 'Bebo Bands', the service is being seen as a challenge to the social networking site’s rival Myspace, which has emerged as a big player in the web music space.

Bebo’s subscribers can use it to upload albums and videos, as well as shareable playlists. "We took our time to launch Bebo Bands to enable us to develop the best available product on the market," said Bebo founder Michael Birch. "We have designed it so that users can share music and help spread the word about the bands they like.”

MySpace allows users to upload a maximum of four tracks. The firm claims to have signed up 10,000 registered users so far, adding that 25,000 musicians and groups have already uploaded content to the site.

The move comes in an eventful week for the online music industry as web outfits and traditional media firms battle to retain fans’ attention.

The BBC’s Top of the Pops broadcast its last show on Sunday after seeing its audience drift away to 24-hour channels and the web, while MTV has announced a new social networking web and interactive TV venture called MTV Flux, which is to be based around a Japanese-style Avatar design. Viewers of the new channel will be able to control what is aired on the station and chat with each other live.

"If audiences are spending more time away from the TV, it is important for us to make sure we have a really compelling product," Angel Gambino, vice-president of commercial strategy and digital media at MTV Networks UK and Ireland told Reuters. "It's critical to our success to make that transition from a broadcasting company to a multiplatform media company.”

Greg Walsh, head of music portal arkade.com, said firms such as MTV will find it hard to stop users migrating to Bebo and similar sites.

"I think they will find it very difficult," he said. "Music is being driven by the public now and no longer by the industry. We see sites like MySpace becoming the home of breaking new music and suddenly Bebo launches its own service."

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Published 31 July, 2006 by Richard Maven

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