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Legit music sharing service revamped

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Although an unscientific poll last year revealed that only 0.2 per cent of Register readers think "Web 2.0" is worthwhile, net services companies continue to believe the buzzword can buff up their brand.

Today, the Mercora music service unveils a major upgrade with the 2.0 moniker prominent. The service allows you to share and stream your playlists across the net to other Mercora users legally. Artists and rights holders are compensated. Last year Mercora called itself "IM radio".

Although Mercora CEO Srivats Sampath told us it's "fully Ajax", the client software to support the new version 5.0 only runs on Windows XP and Windows 2000, and only on IE and FireFox. He said versions for Mac and Linux will be ready by Q3. A Windows Mobile client is scheduled to ship this month, but there's no word on a smartphone (or dumbphone) plug-in.

Mercora offers a music locker service to allow you to upload your songs to its servers, and stream them back in Ogg format, and it's added useful biography and discography information to searches. These can link back to discover who's playing this artist, and links to product and podcasts.

More significantly, Mercora has abandoned the subscription-based model it was extolling when we last checked in a year ago. Instead, the compensation kitty will be powered by targeted Google-style advertisements, which Mercora calls 'MadWords'. It's a self-service model, so if you've amassed a collection of CDs you're embarrassed to look at now, you can start flogging ads for just $5.

"If you want flute music we'll show you Jethro Tull ads," said Sampath.

So why the change?

"Most people will not pay for listening and will not pay for discovery," Sampath told us. "We grew up with radio and radio is free. If people like something, they'll buy it". And so, Mercora provides links to online stores.

As before, Mercora's servers sort out the complex task of rights clearance and compensation. The company says it works with collection agencies covering more than 140 countries.

We'll report back with our own impressions of the launch shortly. If you have something that runs Windows, such as a new Apple Macintosh computer, give it whirl, and let us know what you think too.

The Mercora website is here. ®

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