Monday, January 28, 2008

The Best Things In Life Are Free

Tonight at Midnight a new music service launches. Yawn you say? You've seen them come and go before? No one can loosen Apple's grip on the music download business? Well, think again.

Qtrax is launching with 25 million songs. That's 19 million more than what iTunes has. It includes ringtones, lyrics, album art, videos and more. And the cost? Free. Yep, you heard that right. Download 25 million songs LEGALLY for FREE.

So what's the catch? Well, there are a few. The biggest (at least for me) is probably that the DRM'd music is not compatible with the iPod. They will be tracking how many times a song is downloaded and played. You have to have the Qtrax software installed to download and play. And the music is paid for solely by advertising, something that is generally annoying and a business model that rarely succeeds in the long term (unless you're Google). But they do have Ford Motor Company, Microsoft and some other big gun advertisers so you never know. And I'm sure someone will (illegally) crack the DRM so you can play music wherever you want.

Lastly it's only available on Windoze at first. The Mac OS X version will be out in March.

I'll still download it and give it a whirl.

Update: According to AppleInsider, Qtrax has found a way to make their DRM compatible with iPods.

Update 2 (from 2poppy): According to this AP story, a deal with Warner has not been struck at all, and deals with Universal and EMI are pending final execution. Also:

The company also promises that its music downloads will be playable on Apple Inc.'s iPods and Macintosh computers until April 15. That's unusual, as iPods only playback unrestricted MP3s files or tracks with Apple's proprietary version of DRM, dubbed FairPlay.

In an earlier interview, Klepfisz declined to give specifics on how Qtrax will make its audio files compatible with Apple devices, but noted that "Apple has nothing to do with it."
Sounds like their announcement was a bit premature. We'll see how it all shakes out.

Update 3It's a bust. The service went live last night with all of zero songs, a repackaged music browser and no record deals. Apparently now there are about 10 million songs but downloads are "coming soon". Like when a record deal actually happens? Engadget has more.

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