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Universal and SpiralFrog are dancing to a different tune...and it's not playing on an iPod  (Source: elsevier.nl)
Spiralfrog.com launched its free ad-supported download service today, and there's some interesting quirks

Spiralfrog.com 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 Amazon.com.  Apple has not commented on this development.

For many, though, SpiralFrog.com 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 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
quote:
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 http://ipodmanagers.blogspot.com/ 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
quote:
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
quote:
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.


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