EMI music to use ad-supported peer-to-peer

Written by Brett Thomas

June 7, 2006 | 15:12

Tags: #download #emi #music #peer-to-peer #pirate

We've already talked about Warner Brothers being the first video company to support P2P technology, but so far the music industry has been loathe to step into the ring. Well, that's all changing with London-based EMI's new announcement that it will be making P2P downloading available for its music catalogue.

The new service is called QTrax, and it's an interesting take on P2P. Rather than users always paying for music, they can choose to view ads for a short time before downloading a song of their choice for no charge. For users who don't want the ads, a premium subscription service will be available (though details on pricing have not yet been released).

Of course, nothing is totally for free. The files that EMI intends to host (.mpq format) will function five times before they disable or delete themselves, and provide a "click to buy" option. If you want to carry on for free after that, you can watch a new set of ads and download the file again. This brings the whole system towards an "on demand radio" functionality, where as long as you're willing to sit through the adverts, you'll be allowed to listen to the music ad perpetuum.

It's no surprise that, all the way from the days of the original Napster, advertisers have been wanting to get into the file-sharing ring. However, the questionable legality of much of the content has prevented most of the bigger companies from being willing to wade in. EMI is hoping that their step with Qtrax can change that, and provide a better service to everyone.

David Munns, CEO of EMI records, says:
"We think that any ad-supported model should be offered in a way that maintains, or even enhances the value of music, and we believe Qtrax does that by offering a good consumer experience and significant up-selling opportunities."

You can read more over at Cnet.

The more these companies step into the reality of the digital realm, the more that they will get a chance to refine it to a service that strikes a balance between consumer wants and industry needs. This is a positive step forward, but it clearly lacks the details of key issues such as remaining DRM restrictions after purchase. We rather suspect that the software won't support transfer to portable devices, although only time will tell on such features.

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