Independents Tap Off-Deck Upstart Txttunes, Skip Plastic

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When it comes to paid downloads, content owners have always found themselves competing with free.

But younger fans with limited credit card access have another serious reason not to buy.

That is an issue being addressed by New York-based Txttunes (, a company that shifts the billing entirely onto mobile accounts.  The company offers paid downloads online, but skips the plastic by directly billing an active phone.  Txttunes is not an OTA  (over-the-air) proposition, at least not yet, though songs can easily be transferred from PC to phone after purchase.

Just recently, Txttunes broadened its proposition by striking deals with two independent heavyweights.  The first involves leading digital distributor The Orchard, which delivered its entire MP3-based catalog to Txttunes.  “We look forward to reaching out to fans who don’t have access to credit cards and want to connect with their favorite artists by cell phone,” explained Txttunes chief executive Matt Coleman.

Another deal involving CD Baby is almost a carbon copy.  Collectively, the companies offer an immense independent catalog, and a major boost for Txttunes.  Both deals also involve artist-specific widgets, as well as mobile-based community features.  Txttunes curently offers US-based billing through Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, Boost Mobile, Alltel, and others.