Feeds

Free legal music downloads in time for Christmas

Advert-powered 'iTunes killer' takes to the stage

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

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.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
Airbus promises Wi-Fi – yay – and 3D movies (meh) in new A330
If the person in front reclines their seat, this could get interesting
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
UK Parliament rubber-stamps EMERGENCY data grab 'n' keep bill
Just 49 MPs oppose Drip's rushed timetable
Want to beat Verizon's slow Netflix? Get a VPN
Exec finds stream speed climbs when smuggled out
Samsung threatens to cut ties with supplier over child labour allegations
Vows to uphold 'zero tolerance' policy on underage workers
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.