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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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RE: huh?
By headbox on 9/17/2007 12:14:05 PM , Rating: 1
The reality is not the iPod becoming "useless," but competitors going out of business. Apple has sold over 3 Billion songs and 2 million movies now. No one even comes close. If major heavyweights like Microsoft and WalMart can't compete, yet another new contender like FutileFrog is going to die quickly.

Just because you hate Apple so you can fit in your geek club doesn't mean iPod + iTunes is a bad product. It became #1 because it's a great product.

RE: huh?
By Spivonious on 9/17/2007 12:59:02 PM , Rating: 4
It became number one because Apple marketed it to death. The devices are now called iPods instead of MP3 Players. Similar to how tissues are called Kleenex (or in the older generation, how vacuum cleaners are called Hoovers).

RE: huh?
By AraH on 9/17/2007 1:12:31 PM , Rating: 5
the ipod is number one because people are fashion whores

RE: huh?
By otter111 on 9/17/07, Rating: -1
RE: huh?
By AraH on 9/17/2007 2:40:42 PM , Rating: 4
so you don't deny what i said?

the first step is admission, this is a step in the right direction...

RE: huh?
By Oregonian2 on 9/17/2007 2:46:00 PM , Rating: 2
I won't go for brown turd ones (like the "Chocolate" colored things that companies seem to be making now, for no reason I can imagine). Including Zune's. Having things look good isn't a negative IMO. A brilliant smart woman isn't bad if she's also blond and voluptuous.

RE: huh?
By afkrotch on 9/17/2007 6:59:17 PM , Rating: 5
Well, if you want to compare the ipod to a woman, here's what she'd be.

She'd be a white racist women, who happens to look good, with average intelligence.

White = ipods are white
racist = only itunes
looks good = looks good
average intelligence = average file format support

RE: huh?
By Oregonian2 on 9/17/2007 8:51:07 PM , Rating: 2
I dunno. My iPod before it "disappeared" and my wife's iPod (both the 60Gb 5G version) are both black! I think the Blacks look a lot nicer and sexier than the white iPods. Just don't like the "Chocolate" versions. Would perhaps like a Cobalt Blue as well, but haven't seen one.

But in any case, you're still distorting my posting. The iPod's looking good still isn't, IMO, something to dislike the iPod for.

RE: huh?
By theapparition on 9/18/2007 7:29:48 AM , Rating: 2
The iPod's looking good still isn't, IMO, something to dislike the iPod for.

Quite right. In fact, looking good is the only exemplary thing the iPod does. Everything else is mediocre at best.

In interest of disclosure, I have a 30GB 5th gen, 80GB 5.5gen and Zune. Zune is hands down much better in every aspect except looks.

RE: huh?
By rbuszka on 9/18/2007 6:01:24 PM , Rating: 2
The other thing the iPod does really well: sound very good. It has an impressive DAC and output stage, which is why Wilson Audio (maker of > $100,000 high-end loudspeakers) chose to use an iPod to demonstrate the fact that the loudspeaker is generally the weakest link in the audio chain, even weaker than supposedly 'average' sources like portable music players.

If the Zune was a PlaysForSure player, I'd buy one. For now, however, the Zune isn't an option since I use Napster's subscription service.

RE: huh?
By goku on 9/19/2007 3:10:14 PM , Rating: 2
I bet the idiot used a 128Kb/s Mp3 or AAC file to "demonstrate" this fact..

RE: huh?
By UNCjigga on 9/19/2007 3:35:21 PM , Rating: 2
Apparently you haven't heard of Apple's Lossless Audio Codec which has been around since iTunes 4.7

RE: huh?
By Oregonian2 on 9/21/2007 1:46:45 PM , Rating: 2
But maybe he won't use the iPod touch. It's audio quality is reported to be a step down from the 5.xG's.

RE: huh?
By DragonMaster0 on 9/23/2007 4:23:49 PM , Rating: 2
(maker of > $100,000 high-end loudspeakers)

...which very probably cost 1/10th of the price to manufacture if not less. It's the kind of company not to trust, they just used an iPod because it's the only thing they can use to impress audiophiles that believe in $50 plug wall plates and CD demagnetizers.

It has an impressive DAC and output stage
A low-power-usage Wolfson CODEC with an on-chip headphones driver amp with the signal passing through cheap electrolytic capacitors is impressive for you?

The only reason why it could be minimally better than motherboard audio is that it's powered from a battery rather than an SMPS power supply.

Also, Wolfson is no "high-end" company, Apex Digital uses their chips in $30 DVD players.

RE: huh?
By Wightout on 9/18/2007 1:48:03 PM , Rating: 2

you cant get a nano in white...

RE: huh?
By audiomaniaca on 9/18/2007 6:46:05 PM , Rating: 1
"Plays well"?

What you mean? Do you mean that the crypod has better DA decoders or premium parts (gold earplugs, for example) that make it's output sound better than any other?

First of all, if you want to argue based on sound quality, mp3 players are definitely not the best subject.

Yes, ipods are ordinary mp3 players, like any other out there.

RE: huh?
By otter111 on 9/19/2007 8:46:31 AM , Rating: 2
Alright, if you want to be pedantic...

Yes, actually, the iPod's sound has been tweaked and improved on each new version. Its EQ, with dozens of settings, lets you tailor your sound to any sort of music or situation. Unlike the Zen or Zune, it can handle lossless, CD-quality files (as well as mp3s and AACs).

If you've got a 128kbps mp3 file, no, it's not going to sound any better on an iPod than a cheapo player. But an iPod playing a high-bitrate AIFF or Lossless file kicks a Zen playing lossy WMA files to the curb.

Besides that, it "plays well" because it's easy to use, intuitive, and has Apple's very clever "shuffle" built in -- which is far more than random; it keeps track of the kind of music you enjoy and tailors itself to your tastes as you use it.

So yes -- iPods "play well".

RE: huh?
By munky on 9/20/2007 4:07:33 PM , Rating: 2
I've personally compared my brother's ipod to my own mp3 player, and the ipod is inferior in many ways. First, if you crank up the bass, the ipod clips and distorts the sound. I also have more ways to customize my sound, like BBE enhancement, 3D surround and adjustable play speed; the ipod doesn't. In addition, I get features like a radio, mic recorder, and a line input jack to record from other audio sources. The ipod has none of these. And as of now, you have to use itunes with an ipod, whereas I can just copy files to my player without any additional software. As a piece of hardware, there's nothing outstanding about the ipod. The only reason it sells well is because of the marketing, and because the majority of the population is dumb enough fall for this marketing.

RE: huh?
By otter111 on 9/20/2007 4:33:40 PM , Rating: 2
Those are all good features, some of which I wish the iPod had -- what kind of mp3 player do you have?

The iPod does have a mic recorder and line in, though. They added that capability not too long ago.

I haven't had any distortion or clipping, but it might be a file issue -- AAC vs. mp3 or WMA. iPods can handle lossless files, which shouldn't have any audio issues at all.

The iPod is marketed a lot, but it's also a very easy-to-use and simple-to-understand mp3 player, unlike some of the others, so people find it friendly and welcoming. Plus realize that comparing iPod/iTunes on a PC vs. a Mac is a world of difference. They're MADE to work with Macs, and for Mac users, there's no better music player. Using it on a PC is a different experience altogether.

RE: huh?
By DragonMaster0 on 9/23/2007 4:28:33 PM , Rating: 2
Unlike the Zen or Zune, it can handle lossless

Some Zen can handle FLAC and/or WMA-lossless

RE: huh?
By tmontana on 9/17/2007 1:46:41 PM , Rating: 2
Ah, isn't it wonderful how defensive these macophiles becomes when someone else expresses their opinion. It's the standard stat dumping that really amuses me 3 billion songs.....

It's not that people hate Apple, it's that it disciples... I mean customers treat Apple like it's an infallible god. When in reality it is just a business like Microsoft, or
Dell, or whoever. I neither like Apple nor do I worship pc's or game on pc's, but what does amuse me is Apple's marketing strategy of constantly nocking it's competitors. How many of those mac vs. pc commercials have you seen on tv since it became public that Apple is using Intels chips? To me my computer is just a tool for me to use to accomplish the tasks that I need to do. I think it is sad that people spend so much of their time researching data to prove how Apple or any other company is better than the other.

I think this service is great to give everyone another option. I think if Apple can make it difficult to play their music/videos on other mp3/video players, then why shouldn't someone else be able to do the same to the Ipod.

RE: huh?
By Oregonian2 on 9/17/2007 2:49:08 PM , Rating: 5
It's not that people hate Apple, it's that it disciples... I mean customers treat Apple like it's an infallible god. When in reality it is just a business like Microsoft, or

I agree that those folk (the Apple disciples) are a pain in the ***, but those who hate apple are exactly the same pain in the *** in the opposite direction, so it averages out, sort-of (you know, put one foot in freezing water, the other in boiling water, and on average one is doing great soaking one's feet).

RE: huh?
By Yortuk on 9/17/2007 6:44:07 PM , Rating: 2
"Became public"? It's not like it was a secret. The Intel changeover was pre-announced, months in advance, and even hyped as a huge improvement in performance. And that was, what, like two years ago? I think most of the mac vs. pc commercials have come out since then.

Anyway, I'm not here to defend Apple, I was just browsing to figure out what sort of drm this Spiralfrog uses, to see if it's worth my while. I don't really see how it can play on "mp3" players but not on an iPod, unless it doesn't really support mp3. I would love to have good (legal) alternatives to iTunes, though, so I'm curious what the facts are on this.

RE: huh?
By afkrotch on 9/17/2007 7:02:39 PM , Rating: 2
It won't play, cause Apple is forcing users to use iTunes to import their music over. It's possible that these DRM songs aren't going to be support through iTunes, thus, won't make it over to an iPod.

RE: huh?
By Yortuk on 9/17/2007 7:57:18 PM , Rating: 2
No, Apple doesn't force anyone to use iTunes. You do not need iTunes to use an iPod.

RE: huh?
By UNCjigga on 9/19/2007 3:41:41 PM , Rating: 2
Unfortunately the new iPods *do* force users to manage music through iTunes (as reported by DailyTech). I tried using WinAmp + plugins to put music on my iPod before, but then I realized I just like the way iTunes manages music better.

RE: huh?
By otter111 on 9/17/2007 10:09:55 PM , Rating: 2
iPods don't only use DRM'd songs. I buy my music for my iPod through eMusic... all plain vanilla mp3's with no DRM. You can play AIFF files, lossless files... whatever. You're not forced to use iTunes.

RE: huh?
By audiomaniaca on 9/18/2007 7:02:51 PM , Rating: 2
Please explain me that. The reason I don't use ipods is exactly the dammed software called itunes. How can you "install" mp3s in the ipod without using it's proprietary and unfriendly software?

RE: huh?
By otter111 on 9/19/2007 2:16:57 PM , Rating: 2
iTunes on a PC is a pretty dodgy piece of software, it's true. I don't know why it's so poor in its PC version. On Mac, it's damn near perfect. But...

If you're on Linux, use Amarok or Songbird.

On a PC, check out for reviews of options.

RE: huh?
By tmontana on 9/18/2007 2:16:08 AM , Rating: 2
When I said became public I meant to the "general public", not all the mac freaks who eat up everything little report the second that is spit out from Apple. This wasn't really until they started to "market" the change in it's new models. And by the way, they didn't start to ship until around the end of 2006, which is less than a year ago.

RE: huh?
By theapparition on 9/18/2007 7:33:48 AM , Rating: 2
I was just browsing to figure out what sort of drm this Spiralfrog uses, to see if it's worth my while. I don't really see how it can play on "mp3" players but not on an iPod, unless it doesn't really support mp3.

The format won't be mp3, since it doesn't support drm. Most likely it would be in a format such as WMV, which iPods do not support, but most other devices do.

RE: huh?
By DragonMaster0 on 9/23/2007 4:37:49 PM , Rating: 2
I was just browsing to figure out what sort of drm this Spiralfrog uses, to see if it's worth my while. I don't really see how it can play on "mp3" players but not on an iPod, unless it doesn't really support mp3. I would love to have good (legal) alternatives to iTunes, though, so I'm curious what the facts are on this.

I tested it, it's DRM'd WMA. The thing about 30-days in the article is, if you don't "renew" your account every 30 days, both your account and files license will expire. That's not a big deal though, it's just that every month, you answer a 10 questions survey about how you like the service.

So, it doesn't support every MP3 players out there, just WMA-DRM compatible ones. However, just like with FairPlay, there are ±legal solutions to remove DRM to allow file conversion.

The files are just 128-kbps WMAs though. Not too bad when compared to an MP3 at least.

RE: huh?
By Polynikes on 9/17/2007 3:47:05 PM , Rating: 2
I beg to differ. A music player with the kinds of restrictions iPods have, thanks to Apple's ridiculously crappy iTunes software, is not a quality product to me.

RE: huh?
By otter111 on 9/17/2007 6:12:04 PM , Rating: 3
I beg to differ in return. What kind of restrictions make iTunes and the iPod a poor product?

If you're looking for DRM-free music -- the iTunes Store has it.

If you want to use your own music -- go right ahead. iPods support high-quality AAC, plain-vanilla mp3s, and lossless files.

If you're on Windows, iTunes will easily convert all your WMA files to mp3, AAC, or whatever format you want.

What kind of restrictions does it have again?

RE: huh?
By Suomynona on 9/18/2007 5:26:17 AM , Rating: 2
Sorry, I didn't quite catch that. What was it you said about .ogg support again?

RE: huh?
By otter111 on 9/18/2007 7:36:59 AM , Rating: 2
iTunes doesn't support .ogg out of the box, but free vorbis plugins let it play .ogg. It's a very flexible piece of software.

iPod supports .ogg with the installation of RockBox.

RE: huh?
By Yortuk on 9/17/2007 6:56:20 PM , Rating: 2
What restrictions? iPods play unrestricted mp3's (mostly what I have from ripping my CD collection). You can also choose to play restricted songs purchased from iTunes, but that's not a limitation of the player. iTunes is in no way required to use an iPod, and you can get compatible songs from any service that sells normal mp3's (such as

RE: huh?
By theapparition on 9/18/2007 7:37:12 AM , Rating: 2
iTunes is in no way required to use an iPod

New models are iTunes only.

"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad

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