Social networking site MySpace has become a popular channel for unknown bands and musicians to distribute their tracks for free.

Now the company setting up its first digital music store to sell songs from its reported 3 million unsigned bands.

The media has been quick to brand this move as “MySpace to take on iTunes”, but initially the site will not compete with the Apple store because it will not be able to offer record companies’ tracks.

However, MySpace co-founder Chris DeWolfe told Reuter, “The goal is to be one of the biggest digital music stores out there".

“Everyone we’ve spoken to definitely wants an alternative to iTunes and the iPod. MySpace could be that alternative.”

With 106 million users, MySpace has a huge captive audience at the launch of its music store. Unlike other only music sites, MySpace won’t be setting the price of the tracks that artists sell through its site.

Instead, musicians can decide themselves how much to charge, after including MySpace’s distribution fee, which has not yet been decided.

Because songs will be distributed as MP3 files free of DRM, some analysts are doubting that record companies will be eager to sign up their catalogues to the new store.