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Free service promises over 25 million iPod-compatible tracks

post #1 of 50
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A once controversial peer-to-peer file sharing service said this week it is relaunching with the blessing of the recording industry under an ad-supported model that will see its vast music catalog made available as free downloads, even for Apple iPod owners.

New York-based Qtrax, which now bills itself as the "World's First Free and Legal P2P Music Service," promises to serve up between 25 million and 30 million copyrighted tracks to users over its file sharing network, dwarfing the the number of song downloads offered by rival services such as Apple's iTunes.

Qtrax claims to have struck a deal with all the major record labels whereby downloads will be tabulated and artists later compensated through advertising revenues garnered by the service. For end users, the service will be free, allowing unlimited music downloads that come wrapped in digital rights management (DRM) software to prevent their duplication.

Although the service launched on Monday without iPod support, Qtrax claims to have devised a way for its tracks to work on the Apple players, which have thus far been restricted to compatibility with DRM-free tracks of those wrapped in Apple's proprietary FairPlay wrapper.

"We've had a technical breakthrough which enables us to put songs on an iPod without any interference from FairPlay," Allan Klepfisz, Qtrax's president and chief executive, told the Associated Press. Although the exec declined to give specifics on how Qtrax will make its audio files compatible with Apple devices, he noted that "Apple has nothing to do with it."

Qtrax says iPod compatibility could arrive as early as March. It's unclear, however, whether Apple will attempt to circumvent Qtrax compatibility in order to maintain the strong bond between the iTunes Store and its digital media player line.

Update

Following Qtrax's announcement overnight, at least one of the major record labels disputes that they had reached an agreement with the company to offer their tracks through the new service.

"Warner Music Group has not authorized the use of our content on Qtrax's recently announced service," Warner, the No. 3 music company, said in a statement.

For its part, Qtrax responded by saying, "We are in discussion with Warner Music Group to ensure that the service is licensed and we hope to reach an agreement shortly."

Meanwhile, a source close to Universal Music Group, the world's largest music company, told Reuters it also did not have a deal with Qtrax but discussions were continuing.
post #2 of 50
It amazes me how many times companies will insist on going back to DRM as a solution...

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post #3 of 50
Quote:
article: A once controversial peer-to-peer file sharing service

How can it be controversial if it's an unknown? The front page article summary seems to suggest that it's an unknown given that its name is not mentioned.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John.B View Post

It amazes me how many times companies will insist on going back to DRM as a solution...

I think it's a necessity for the subscription/rental services. Sell to keep, not so much.

Besides, it's not "going back" if you've never left it.
post #4 of 50
I'll go and get myself 100TB (assuming an average of 4mb per song) of hd space and set the whole lot downloading, on my 8mbps connection that should only take give or take 190 years to download assuming I get the maximum speed... which i dont, so make it 500 years!
post #5 of 50
What is this amazing new technology that allows them to put their songs on your ipod? Um, nothing? You can put MP3's and non DRM'd AAC files on you ipod with ease, contrary to what the article says, there's no need for a fairplay wrapper.
post #6 of 50
It's funny how this Qtrax is not riding the coat tails of Apple, yet they use Myriad, Apple's primary typeface. What a bunch of wankers.
post #7 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by huntercr View Post

What is this amazing new technology that allows them to put their songs on your ipod? Um, nothing? You can put MP3's and non DRM'd AAC files on you ipod with ease, contrary to what the article says, there's no need for a fairplay wrapper.

what theyre saying is that there is a problem in coding files WITH DRM and putting them on an iPod.

On anothe rnote, as a musician who supports free music, I am really excited about this.
post #8 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by huntercr View Post

What is this amazing new technology that allows them to put their songs on your ipod? Um, nothing? You can put MP3's and non DRM'd AAC files on you ipod with ease, contrary to what the article says, there's no need for a fairplay wrapper.

The AP article got that detail right, the AI article got it wrong, it seems the AI writer was not very meticulous with the details.

Apparently Qtrax has given the impression that they have full embrace of the industry, all the major labels. Warner, Universal and EMI deny that they have a deal, Qtrax responds that two of them are almost signed. It sounds like they announced too early. The fourth major label didn't respond yet.

http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/Gad...ory?id=4196546
post #9 of 50
Any ideas how they might achieve DRM protection but still be able to play in on an iPod, and presumably iTunes, without Apple's assistance?


Quote:
Originally Posted by shawnathan View Post

It's funny how this Qtrax is not riding the coat tails of Apple, yet they use Myriad, Apple's primary typeface. What a bunch of wankers.

Since when does a similar typeface make one a wanker?
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post #10 of 50
My prediction is that Steve Jobs will put out an iTunes update and will squash it's compatibility. This would directly cut into iTunes music sales- not that Apple is make any money off the music it sells, mind you.
post #11 of 50
Why would Apple try and prevent this? It's not like they are messing with Fairplay like the others were.

But it makes me wonder, if it's not fairplay, then what's to stop me from sticking it on my own iPod?
post #12 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

My prediction is that Steve Jobs will put out an iTunes update and will squash it's compatibility. This would directly cut into iTunes music sales- not that Apple is make any money off the music it sells, mind you.

That would be anti-competitive if it could be proven that Apple purposely prevented it.
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post #13 of 50
Um. What "software" would that be? Certainly they cannot wrap the music in mp3... or can they? So it's either AAC or WMV, and given the latter, how exactly are Macs (not iPods) going to handle those?
post #14 of 50
I'm not sure how well this would work - a huge requirement for P2P to be successful is lots of seeders (i.e. users who upload). If I downloaded a bunch of tracks, but had to put up with DRM, got a ton of advertisements shoved in my face in the process, and knew the record companies were still making profit, why would I feel the obligation l to take a connection speed hit and pay for upload bandwidth??
post #15 of 50
Why are so many of you being so negative about this? Is it because, for the first time, Apple might have some serious competition on their hands?

DRM has been an issue but only with music we've had to pay for. In this scenario, if you have a track on your computer that you want access to on another computer, just download it again.. for free.

This sounds like a great idea to me. I would happily put up with a few ads for what is essentially free music that doesn't expire and works on an iPod.

The AI article also suggests Apple may attempt to circumvent Qtrax compatibility in order to maintain the iTMS's strong lead but this is ridiculous. Is Apple giving up MP3 compatibility so that Amazon's tracks don't work on iPods? Obviously not...
post #16 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Buck View Post

Um. What "software" would that be? Certainly they cannot wrap the music in mp3... or can they? So it's either AAC or WMV, and given the latter, how exactly are Macs (not iPods) going to handle those?

iTunes converts WMA (they wouldn't use WMV) into aac or mp3, so it wouldn't be an issue.
post #17 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by StuBeck View Post

iTunes converts WMA (they wouldn't use WMV) into aac or mp3, so it wouldn't be an issue.

Only the Windows version of itunes does that.
post #18 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by daniel84 View Post

Why are so many of you being so negative about this? Is it because, for the first time, Apple might have some serious competition on their hands?

DRM has been an issue but only with music we've had to pay for. In this scenario, if you have a track on your computer that you want access to on another computer, just download it again.. for free.

This sounds like a great idea to me. I would happily put up with a few ads for what is essentially free music that doesn't expire and works on an iPod.

The AI article also suggests Apple may attempt to circumvent Qtrax compatibility in order to maintain the iTMS's strong lead but this is ridiculous. Is Apple giving up MP3 compatibility so that Amazon's tracks don't work on iPods? Obviously not...

1) Apple had MP3 capabiities ont he iPod since day one. The only way to prevent MP3 would be to remove it. The speculation as to Apple preventing this new file file type is only warranted if Qtrax has to introduce software that alters iPod/iTunes. But that doesn't seem likely.

2) Apple is still bested by CD sales and Amazon is certainly serious competition. They have an entire catalog of DRM-free music and at twice the bitrate and slightly cheaper than iTS DRMed audio. Their download app for OS X imports audio into iTunes and is very simple to use. The SuperBowl should make Amazon much more popular.

3) Who would people use a P2P service with DRM in lieu of a P2P service without DRM? Except for legality sake, It doesn't make sense.

4) I still don't see how a non-FairPlay DRMed track will play on iPod/iTunes without Apple's assistance.
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post #19 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

4) I still don't see how a non-FairPlay DRMed track will play on iPod/iTunes without Apple's assistance.

If you recall, RealNetworks was able to reverse-engineer Fairplay with its "Harmony" technology. This allowed AAC tracks purchased from the RealPlayer Music Store to transfer to the iPod without any loss of quality. Those tracks have always been 192Kbps, so that was a distinct advantage at the time. I suspect Qtrax will be doing something similar.
post #20 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galley View Post

If you recall, RealNetworks was able to reverse-engineer Fairplay with its "Harmony" technology. This allowed AAC tracks purchased from the RealPlayer Music Store to transfer to the iPod without any loss of quality. Those tracks have always been 192Kbps, so that was a distinct advantage at the time. I suspect Qtrax will be doing something similar.

Interesting! And this would keep them from being copied or stripped from their DRM, too?

edit: Can't Apple just introduce a new version of FairPlay that defeats any reverse engineering and protect its DRM without provoking any anti-trust lawyers from their slumber?
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post #21 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by daniel84 View Post

Why are so many of you being so negative about this? Is it because, for the first time, Apple might have some serious competition on their hands?

I don't think this is real competition - Amazon may be, but not this.

I can see it now - in the middle of side 2 of Abbey Road, after "Mr. Mustard" plays, you get a hot dog commercial. People will love it.
post #22 of 50
People need to remember why iTunes is so popular. It's the quality of the interface. Just go to Amazon or any of the alternative music sources. Searching, browsing, sampling, buying, it's all one big PITA. The other music "stores" suck mightily as far the user experience and ease of use are concerned.

1. The average customer cares about ease of use in terms of finding and buying music.
2. The average customer could care less about DRM.
3. The average customer will continue to use and buy from the iTMS because it has been implemented so well.

I don't see any real competition to the iTunes/iTMS. A colleague at work tried to satisfy his teenage daughter with a couple of mp3 players. He finally was basically forced to buy her an iPod. He's a long time Windows user and even he has stated that he now uses iTunes as his main music player because it's so well written and easy to use. It's easy to fall prey to all the criticisms of the iPod/iTunes/iTMS system by the very vocal minority. Remember these are the people who predicted Apple's failure because of no user replaceable battery, no FM tuner, DRM, et al. They're also still waiting for Ogg Vorbis support, har har.

This unknown outfit will more than likely be an also-ran like the rest of them even if it actually works. It's gonna take a whole lot more than DRM free music or so-called free music to dethrone the iPod/iTunes/iTMS ecosystem. And contrary to another very vocal minority it's not a monopoly either.
post #23 of 50
THIS IS GREAT NEWS!!!

Now, I will pay for all the music and movies. But I want them lossless, DRM-free and for $1 each CD, DVD or Blu-ray downloaded via legal P2P. That wipes out piracy from the face of the planet Earth overnight. Will they get it eventually or die like old dinosaurs?
post #24 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Any ideas how they might achieve DRM protection but still be able to play in on an iPod, and presumably iTunes, without Apple's assistance?




Since when does a similar typeface make one a wanker?

If Shawnathan is right, it's not just similar, it's the same typeface. Still, I really don't think that's a big deal unless Apple owns the typeface. Nothing else of the website is remenicent of Apple. Personally, I don't understand the typeface geeks. Maybe I'm just some lowly philistine, some of their complaints about one face vs. another amount to what would be a subpixel or less on for regular sized text (12pts) a monitor.
post #25 of 50
I love Apple and iTunes but i love FREE even better. Regardless of the messy interface or usability if the end user can download FREE tunes without fear of the internet police knocking on their door then it'll certainly appeal.

Whilst QTrax isn't a household name, it won't be long before word gets around and much bigger brands with bigger ad revenue copy the model and step into the arena.

This is one example where Leopard running XP will come in handy. Cheers Apple
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post #26 of 50
post #27 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amorya View Post

Only the Windows version of itunes does that.

Thats lame, I wonder why that is a "feature" of the OS X version.
post #28 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by TrojanShawn View Post

Dont get your hopes up yet...

Whoops!! A classic case of Cart Before The Horse
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post #29 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Underhill View Post

Whoops!! A classic case of Cart Before The Horse

It is bad faith to announce a deal before it's actually signed. I don't expect them to survive long doing that sort of boneheaded maneuvers.
post #30 of 50
Over the long term, I don't expect Apple to stay in the music retail business: it's not where their strengths lie.

However, they have a bright future in the music playback and distribution business, through iPod+iTunes. In some ways it's good news for them that iPod will supposedly work with this company's DRM (as horrible as DRM is) because it challenges the notion that iPod is a lock-in, and helps Apple with their problems with the EU competition commission. I know it's not a lock-in for DRM-free media, but it is for DRM-enabled (or disabled, I should say).

The best thing for iTunes would be for Apple to lease out space for Amazon and others, including individual musicians, to set up storefronts.
post #31 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by daniel84 View Post

Why are so many of you being so negative about this? Is it because, for the first time, Apple might have some serious competition on their hands?

DRM has been an issue but only with music we've had to pay for. In this scenario, if you have a track on your computer that you want access to on another computer, just download it again.. for free.

This sounds like a great idea to me. I would happily put up with a few ads for what is essentially free music that doesn't expire and works on an iPod.

The AI article also suggests Apple may attempt to circumvent Qtrax compatibility in order to maintain the iTMS's strong lead but this is ridiculous. Is Apple giving up MP3 compatibility so that Amazon's tracks don't work on iPods? Obviously not...

Bah. The competition for this is FREE, not Apple. Apple's competition is Amazon.

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post #32 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

It is bad faith to announce a deal before it's actually signed. I don't expect them to survive long doing that sort of boneheaded maneuvers.

Steve might even stick it to the record companies more thanks to their underhanded dealings. Screw 'em.

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post #33 of 50
That so many of you think that Qtrax is going to happen. Free, legal, digital downloads? Yeah, right.

It can't happen. And Apple is way back in the line of those who would scream bloody murder if such a scam surfaced. The music industry would instantly be out of business and this includes any artist who made a living from selling music. All you could get from Qtrax would be music recorded before March 2008 and amateur music thereafter (I can't wait to get some plumber's cover of "Helter Skelter" )

Qtrax is a fraud, and if it ever sees the light of day, it will be destroyed immediately.
post #34 of 50
Right now, everyone is heading over to Qtrax. That traffic will show the labels this model might be viable. It's a cowboy way to get their attention, but it just might work. It caught them all on a busy day while they're watching the spectrum auction.
post #35 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

That would be anti-competitive if it could be proven that Apple purposely prevented it.

Why? The QTrax option is free. How, in a businesslike manner, can apple compete with free?
post #36 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by jouster View Post

Why? The QTrax option is free. How, in a businesslike manner, can apple compete with free?

It's free only if you ignore the cost of your time exposing yourself to advertising.

Assuming this thing is real.
post #37 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by jouster View Post

Why? The QTrax option is free. How, in a businesslike manner, can apple compete with free?

Exactly what JeffDM said. Just because one service is free doesn't mean there is no revenue stream or that they don't charge for a different service.
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post #38 of 50
With respect to Apple being in the music (and tv show/movie) sales business, Apple has said recently that the iTMS is there on a "just above break even" basis and exists to sell iPods.

I would assume that now includes movie rentals with regard to the iPods, iPhones, and Apple TV.

So, I doubt that Apple is worried about ANYONE getting into the business of selling music that is playable on an iPod. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Apple is fairly happy with having Amazon getting in on the MP3 music download business. The quality is not as good, and the store front is not as good.

But in the long run, anything that can play on an iPod is to Apple's benefit.

My 2 cents.
post #39 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by GregoriusM View Post

The quality is not as good, and the store front is not as good.

Have you compared tracks from both? I thought the word from those that tried both found that Amazon's quality is a lot better than the standard iTunes track, and about equal to that of iTunes+ tracks. The variable bit rate encoding on Amazon is supposed to make up for it being MP3. iTunes sells them as constant bit rate tracks.
post #40 of 50
I seriously doubt this service's ipod support promise. If the company can boast support from major labels without a real contract is signed, it can well boast ipod support without a line of code is even written.
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