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Universal and SpiralFrog are dancing to a different tune...and it's not playing on an iPod  (Source: launched its free ad-supported download service today, and there's some interesting quirks launched today, providing music fans with a legal avenue to download some free music.  The only catch -- the music is supported by the site's advertising revenues, so your clicks keep those tracks downloading.

Chairman and founder of New York-based SpiralFrog Inc., Joe Mohen announced "We believe [SpiralFrog] will be a very powerful alternative to the pirate sites, with SpiralFrog you know what you're getting ... there's no threat of viruses, adware or spyware."

The site, which has been beta tested for months, currently carries about 800,000 tracks and 3,500 music videos available for free download.  You must sign up for a free account and provide demographic information in order to gain access to the media.  You must also use your account each month in order to keep it active, which is intended to prevent users from simply downloading and not returning to the site.

The site intends to have over 2 million tracks available within the next several months.

Most of the media on the site is from Vivendi SA's Universal Music Group, the largest record company in the world, and the only music label to currently have jumped at SpiralFrog's business plan.

In July DailyTech reported that Vivendi had jumped ship from Apple's iTunes service, declining to renew their contract, deciding to seek revenue from alternative sources.  Now it appears that one such alternative source is SpiralFrog.

An interesting detail has emerged.  Files from SpiralFrog are digitally protected and can be played on mp3 players, but cannot be burned to CDs.  There is another minor detail, though -- the files cannot be played on Apple's wildly popular iPod MP3 players -- nor the less popular Microsoft Zune. 

SpiralFrog's frequently asked questions section states, "Songs and video files that you download from SpiralFrog are not compatible with Apple’s range of iPods or Microsoft’s Zune."

The move to not allow its content to be played on iPod's appears to be a clear snub by the Universal Music Group, similar to NBC's recent move of its television content from iTunes to  Apple has not commented on this development.

For many, though, presents an intriguing new business model that may present a legal alternative to file sharing or spending large amounts of money on CDs or paid download services, such as iTunes.

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By JasonMick on 9/17/2007 11:29:00 AM , Rating: 2
Straight from the frog's mouth:
Q: Are files downloaded from SpiralFrog compatible with the iPod or Zune?

A: Songs and video files that you download from SpiralFrog are not compatible with Apple’s range of iPods or Microsoft’s Zune.

Apparently Zune is not compatible as well, but the move still looks like a snub to Apple, as they have a much larger marketshare.

Also in response to other questions:

The tracks are DRM'ed as the posts state. The tracks are of format .wma and play on mp3 players which support DRM level 10 or 11. You must update your version of Windows Media Player to 9.0 or up to play the tracks.

I know, the DRM is a bummer, but it is free and there are ways to get rid of DRM =D

RE: Update
By tmp8000 on 9/17/2007 11:36:08 AM , Rating: 1
Didn't Universal leave iTunes because they wanted to charge $5 per episode or some ridiculous price for videos? They must be getting a huge portion of the ad revenue to justify this. Also $5 per episode is ridiculous considering the average price of an episode when released on DVD is around $2 per episode, oddly the same price Apple is charging...

RE: Update
By Smurfer2 on 9/17/2007 1:05:03 PM , Rating: 2
Uh, the Zune is not compatible. Most stores on the internet with DRM use WMA encoded with "Playforsure" The Zune has a new type of DRM and can not play "Playforsure" files. Also, it isn't a snub at Apple, as the only store that sells DRMed files that will work on the Ipod is Apple. They will not share or sell their Fairplay DRM. The only choice then is DRMed WMAs as the Zune DRM is not lisensed currently.

RE: Update
By TomCorelis on 9/17/2007 2:51:57 PM , Rating: 4
Isn't it funny that "Plays For Sure" is a Microsoft initiative aimed to standardize DRM, yet, the Microsoft Zune won't play it?

RE: Update
By Etsp on 9/17/2007 6:07:07 PM , Rating: 3
Actually, I find it funny that my sony walkman can play it O_O;

RE: Update
By mxzrider2 on 9/23/2007 2:22:04 AM , Rating: 2
for the record, the zune is a good piece of equipment. and the reason its not a plays for sure device is because its a Toshiba gigabeat. stupid ms. should have created their own junk instead of paying someone to do it for them

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