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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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I don't get it
By AlexWade on 9/17/2007 11:34:54 AM , Rating: 3
So you are wanting to start a new downloadable music service, so you shut out the most popular product by far. I don't get record execs. They make so many stupid moves and then blame piracy for their mismanagement. This service will fail, and to them it won't be because they shut out the majority of users, it will be piracy.

The only thing I can figure out is that Apple is forcing them to keep songs priced at a reasonable amount. In any other business, except movies, record labels would be long out of business because of the way they treat their customers.

RE: I don't get it
By Keeir on 9/17/2007 12:26:54 PM , Rating: 2
The only thing I can figure out is that Apple is forcing them to keep songs priced at a reasonable amount.

That is what the most curious thing about this idea is... If its ad supported, that means there must be some ratio of downloads to click throughs (etc) to justify giving away an mp3 that would have sold of a certain amount on the Apple Store. Given my own habits, and those of whom I know, I might click on 1 of a thousand ads... I just have a hard time believing the ads revenues will be greater than the iTunes downloads. IE, revenue will actually fall rather than rise. Especially when ~80% or more of the market can't use the song portably.

I think it might have more to do with an attempt to force more purchases of CDs (since you can't download this music for most portable players or burn it to a CD).

"It seems as though my state-funded math degree has failed me. Let the lashings commence." -- DailyTech Editor-in-Chief Kristopher Kubicki

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