And, sure enough, a new Web site called AnywhereCD appeared, offering unprotected tracks from Warner Music Group.

But was this the next shoe to drop after the iTunes / EMI lovefest captivated audiences just one week earlier?

Not exactly.

WMG quickly issued AnywhereCD a cease and desist notice within 24 hours of the Web site’s debut, saying the site did not have a license to sell unprotected downloads. AnywhereCD complied with the c&d, but said it had received permission to help customers rip their own CDs into MP3s.

Say again?

AnywhereCD, which is helmed by Michael Robertson, the founder of the original, sells CDs online. Meaning, like Amazon, buy a CD from AnywhereCD and the company mails it to you.

However, unlike those other mail-fulfillment online CD stores, AnywhereCD goes an extra mile for the customer. Buy a CD from AnywhereCD, and for a slightly larger price tag the company will rip it into MP3 files for you. So you’re buying actual, physical CDs from AnywhereCD. The MP3 ripping and downloading is just an additional service. What’s more, customers can opt not to receive the physical CD they purchased, electing instead just to download the tracks.

“In both instances a physical CD is being purchased,” Robertson told Wired News’ blog Listening Post. “Royalties are paid for the CD plus we offered to compensate participating labels for the digital files. The monies are better than traditional album sales. Let me repeat – every transaction involves the sale of a physical CD plus additional royalties. No exceptions. Those CDs not elected for delivery are kept for an audit period and then destroyed.”

Although WMG has forced AnywhereCD to stop offering the label’s music for unprotected downloads, that doesn’t mean the independent labels featured on the Web site haven’t followed suit. But it was a major label’s unprotected tracks that stirred interest in the new online music site in the first place.

“AnywhereCD is trying to sell albums,” Robertson told Listening Post. “Not sure we’ll be successful because competition is fierce from non-royalty guys (used CD sales, CD traders and file swappers). If we don’t get support of labels then I don’t see how we can be successful. But I’m confident that they’ll realize we’re on the same side of the issue.”