Feeds

Free legal music downloads in time for Christmas

Advert-powered 'iTunes killer' takes to the stage

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

It had to happen. A new legal music download service will be launched in December which will offer MP3s free at the point of delivery. New York-based Spiralfrog says its site will be fully funded by advertising.

The firm has some heavyweight backing in the shape of Vivendi Universal Music Group. Research apparently revealed consumers were willing to suffer ads for products relevant to them in exchange for free tunes.

Spiralfrog said it will make the entire Universal back catalogue available at no charge, including current hit parade favourites like Razorlight and Johnny Hallyday, together with its roster of classics from the likes of Stevie Wonder. Independent labels will be hosted too, along with video content.

The International Federation of Phonographic Industries estimates there's currently 40 illegal downloads to every single legal one. Spiralfrog will be pitching at the tech-savvy 13 to 34-year-old demographic. Spiralfrog CEO Robin Kent said: "Offering young consumers an easy-to-use alternative to pirated music sites will be compelling."

Kent is a former Saatchi & Saatchi advertising executive. The CTO is Vesa Suomalainen, the Finn responsible for managing the development of Microsoft Host Integration Server. Strategy is being handled by Robert Goodale, the former CEO of Ultrastar, David Bowie's online music communities venture.

The standard download charge at iTunes is currently at £0.79 or $0.99 per track. Whether Spiralfrog's entry will prompt a rethink at the dominant player remains to be seen, but industry watchers are already pondering the implications. Ovum analyst Michele Mackenzie said: "There is no mention of which audio codec or DRM solution will be used, although it is very likely that the record labels will insist on some DRM being in place.

"Few service providers are currently in a position to provide the large audiences that advertisers require, and few pure music providers have the heritage of building a business funded by advertising."

The nascent firm's announcement is attracting more excited speculation from mainstream newspapers and the BBC. If it indeed becomes a major force, the rest of the "big four" record companies - Sony BMG, Warner and EMI - are sure to follow Universal's lead and clamber on board. And then Apple will really have something to think about. ®

Bootnote

In other music liberalisation news, which will be greeted with equally heavy hearts in some record company boardrooms and the Zune development bunker, The BBC reports yet another application is being offered for download which can bypass the Windows Media Player DRM. It's called Fairuse4wm, and is widely available now...apparently.

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Bada-Bing! Mozilla flips Firefox to YAHOO! for search
Microsoft system will be the default for browser in US until 2020
NSA mass spying reform KILLED by US Senators
Democrats needed just TWO more votes to keep alive bill reining in some surveillance
Be real, Apple: In-app goodie grab games AREN'T FREE – EU
Cupertino stands down after Euro legal threats
'Cleantech' a dirty word for VCs? RUBBISH!
They just think the current schemes are terrible
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.