The operator of Hong Kong's only website to offer legal music downloads is surprised by the demand for Canto-pop tunes and is expanding business. Canto-pop songs are the most popular of the 150,000 songs offered by www.eolasia.com , said Alan Choy Yuk-pong, chief operating officer of I-Content, which launched the site three weeks ago. 'It wasn't what we expected,' Mr Choy said. 'We thought people were more willing to pay to download international hits rather than local songs, plus there are so many free illegal channels to download the latest Canto-pop releases. 'This is very encouraging. It shows that people are willing to pay for music. We believe the market will continue to pick up.' He would not say how many songs had been downloaded so far, but insisted the volume was satisfactory. Apart from music downloads, the website would provide more international music news and reviews, hopefully leading to an online music magazine, he said. 'Local music critic Fung Lai-chi will contribute music critiques to our website. We will also run articles on the international music scene. We won't have gossip. It will be purely music-oriented, which is our direction.' The website carried songs mainly from Sony BMG, Warner and EMI, and negotiations were continuing with Universal Music, Mr Choy said. 'We are hoping to incorporate songs by independent bands and musicians as well, so as to provide a wider variety of music,' he said. The website offers the songs in Microsoft's WMA format with digital rights management, which prevents users copying the files onto other computers. But they can still burn the files onto CDs or transfer them to portable music players. Mr Choy said they had received many inquiries about the decision to use the WMA format instead of the popular MP3 format. He said WMA was the most widely adopted format for legal music websites and digital rights management protected the songs' copyright. 'It is the mainstream in America and Europe. Plus new models of MP3 players by major manufacturers such as Samsung and Creative support WMA files,' he said. But Apple's popular portable music device, the i-Pod, does not support WMA. 'But you can burn the files onto a CD and transfer them onto an i-Pod,' he said. Getting Down Top 10 downloads last week 1 Sorry Seems to be the hardest word - Ray Charles 2 Ch-Check It out (Just Blaze Remix) - Beastie Boys 3 Another Brick In the Wall, Part One - Pink Floyd 4 Need Your love so bad (single edit) Gary Moore 5 Leave Home - The Chemical Brothers 6 Apache - The Shadows 7 Olympic Dream - Maksim 8 Come Away with Me - Norah Jones 9 Secret (Take You Home) 10 Body Movin - Beastie Boys Download Price: $8 to $9 I-Content is offering 1,000 free songs to 500 Post readers. Just log on to www.eolasia.com and click on 'EOLAsia Songs Giveaway South China Morning Post'. Follow the instructions and register with the website as a new member (which is free). Enter the SCMP code: EOLAsia. The first 500 entries can download two songs for free.