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QTrax offers free music, legally

QTrax offers free music, legally

The QTrax service is currently in beta, but shows promise: if only they'd ditch the DRM.

Peer-to-peer start-up QTrax is bravely forging ahead with the first large-scale, ad-supported, free, completely legal music download service. The bad news? It's not free from DRM.

Qtrax has announced deals with pretty much every major record label this weekend, and claims that it will be offering a 25-million-strong catalogue for gratis.

The service is based on a blacklist/whitelist/greylist system. The blacklist covers all the artists who have said “no way, no how” to digital distribution (I'm guessing the Purple Midget is on that one), and blocks such music from being shared via the system. The whitelist is all the artists who have said “yeah, baby!”. The greylist is possibly the most interesting part of the system, however: it's all the stuff that's floating around there on other less salubrious P2P networks and that hasn't been officially okayed or blocked.

QTrax CEO Allan Klepfisz describes the greylist as being for “where there are rights holders, but the rights holders themselves may not even know that a song is being downloaded frequently,” and claims the company identifies said rights holder and pays them a percentage of revenue gained from on-site advertising. He goes on to say “where we can't identify a rights holder, we will actually put up the song for claiming, and will reserve the portion of the ad pie until that song is appropriately claimed.

It's by this shady-sounding method that the company hopes to bolster its catalogue to the point where it dwarfs other legal download sources: as an example, iTunes currently has around five million songs available on its catalogue, just a fifth of what QTrax claims it will be able to offer.

The P2P application itself is based on the Songbird engine, and all downloading occurs within a Firefox-based browser with no need for any separate software to be installed. The down side is that the DRM is based on Microsoft technologies, so you'll need Windows Media Player installed – Linux users need not apply. Additionally, the songs are not currently supported on the ubiquitous Apple iPod, but the company claims to be working on that.

It's certainly refreshing to see an admission from the music industry that perhaps suing the heck out of music lovers isn't the way to go, and that there might be a way to have their cake and eat it: a system whereby the consumer feels that he's getting something for nothing in true anarchist P2P style and yet the artist (and the industry as a whole) can continue to profit.

Hey, it's worth a try.

Tempted by fully-legal P2P music sharing, or would they need to ditch the DRM before you even thought of visiting their website? Discuss it over in the forums.

13 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
HourBeforeDawn 28th January 2008, 09:10 Quote
ya this is worth a try, I will give it a shot probably in a few days... having issues with my ISP and using to much of their bandwidth lol....
DriftCarl 28th January 2008, 09:27 Quote
looks good to me.

I am going to give it a try, providing the adds arnt in the middle of the songs :p
Cthippo 28th January 2008, 10:01 Quote
Quote:
Tempted by fully-legal P2P music sharing, or would they need to ditch the DRM before you even thought of visiting their website?

You know what? I'll pay for music when they sell it to me in a format that will play on my system over my network. Until then, Someone else gets my money. I'm not going to switch OS's just to dowload music.
outlawaol 28th January 2008, 10:03 Quote
Wow, thats impressive. I would, however, find a way to make all the music DRM free that I downloaded. And yes, if the songs have any kind of in-music ad, I will promptly stop using it.

:)
quack 28th January 2008, 11:37 Quote
Qtrax is a joke.

1) They do not have the 4 big labels signed up as they declared in their press release. Warner hasn't signed anything, nor have Universal or EMI.
2) They didn't even launch when they said they would!

As someone over on TechCrunch said, they've shot themselves in the foot and jumped into a shark tank.
Brooxy 28th January 2008, 11:49 Quote
If there are in-music adds, it depends where they are. If it's at the start or end of the song, I would have thought you could use Audacity or the like to remove it - considering it's free if you could do that, it would still be worth it - free music, with no threat from the RIAA (yet)
naokaji 28th January 2008, 11:53 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by quack
Qtrax is a joke.

1) They do not have the 4 big labels signed up as they declared in their press release. Warner hasn't signed anything, nor have Universal or EMI.
2) They didn't even launch when they said they would!

As someone over on TechCrunch said, they've shot themselves in the foot and jumped into a shark tank.

the if it sounds too good to be true... rule applies in the case of QTrax in my opinion.
Arkanrais 28th January 2008, 12:20 Quote
Quote:
(and the industry as a whole)
I read the "l" in whole as an "r", which I think sums up most of the industry quite well.
DXR_13KE 28th January 2008, 13:40 Quote
I cant play it in my linux box? i wont set my feet there......
quack 28th January 2008, 15:05 Quote
Now the BBC has picked up the story: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7213112.stm
Firehed 28th January 2008, 15:38 Quote
DRMed? Fail.
legoman666 28th January 2008, 17:23 Quote
http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080128-qtraxs-free-legal-p2p-scheme-is-vaporware-for-now.html

Apparently they don't have any labels signed on. So its just vapourware until then.
KillaHead 29th January 2008, 02:49 Quote
Just D/L'ed and tried all it says when trying to D/L a song is downloads available shortly so for now it's nothing but a online media player
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