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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 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.

"If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." -- Scientology founder L. Ron. Hubbard

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