The High-Tech Texan Blog

Monday, January 28, 2008

Is Qtrax legit?

I know something is hot when my cell phone wakes me up early in the morning. Usually its either bad family news or someone wants to ask me a question about a tech story.

Qtrax has been topic du jour. KTRH and ABC 13 called this morning wanting to know if this new, free music downloading service is legit. It has been around for a while - back from the Napster days - but they just announced a service for free music downloads, apparently doing a deal with several music labels.

A quote from a press release I just received:

After a decade fighting to stop illegal file-sharing, the music industry will give fans today what they have always wanted: an unlimited supply of free and legal songs.

With CD sales in free fall and legal downloads yet to fill gap, the music industry has reluctantly embraced the file-sharing technology that threatened to destroy it. Qtrax, a digital service announced today, promises a catalogue of more than 25 million songs that users can download to, free and with no limit on the number of tracks.

The service has been endorsed by the very same record companies - including EMI, Universal Music and Warner Music – that have chased file-sharers through the courts in a doomed attempt to prevent piracy. The gamble is that fans will put up with a limited amount of advertising around the Qtrax website’s jukebox in return for authorised use of almost every song available.

The service will use the “peer-to-peer” network, which contains not just hit songs but rarities and live tracks from the world’s leading artists.
Apparently there was an issue with the release which was supposed to happen last night. Three of the four major labels (Universal, EMI, Warner Bros.) denied signing a deal with Qtrax. However, the site is still offering up albums by EMI artists Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd.

How is free? Qtrax uses a program where the labels are paid in ad revenues on a per-download basis, allowing Windows users to download DRM-encoded WMA files, making them playable on some portable music devices—but supposedly not iPods. While there are conflicting reports about the adaptability of the files, an Apple version of Qtrax is expected to launch in March.

I'm going to hold off for a while before using the service but will continue to monitor the situation.



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