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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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No conspiracy here, move along
By Baumi on 9/17/2007 4:01:20 PM , Rating: 2
Of course it won't work on iPods. The music can't be burned to CDs, meaning it's using DRM. The only DRM working on iPods is Apple's own FairPlay which they're not licensing out to anyone. (According to their FAQ, they're using WMA DRM, which has never been compatible with iPods.) Basically, there's no legal and future-proof way to make their business model work with iPods without Apple's support, no matter how much they might want to do that. The same goes for the Zune which doesn't play WMA DRM either.

RE: No conspiracy here, move along
By HotdogIT on 9/17/2007 5:06:40 PM , Rating: 2
The same goes for the Zune which doesn't play WMA DRM either.

It'll play WMAs that have DRM; just not THESE WMAs with THIS DRM.

Semantics, mostly :D

RE: No conspiracy here, move along
By Yortuk on 9/17/2007 7:07:14 PM , Rating: 2
Nonsense. They could ditch the DRM and go with mp3's instead. They would dominate the market. Maybe restrict the quality and sell upgrades to higher quality files.

RE: No conspiracy here, move along
By Awax on 9/18/2007 5:45:29 AM , Rating: 2
They won't : the point is to have you locked.

If you can download unrestricted music file (make it MP3, AAC, OGG, ...), once you have them downloaded, you won't go to their site anymore, except to retrieve new music.

The point here is to have files limited to a one month lifespan so you have to go to their site and browse their adds every other week to keep them playing.

This is just another subscription based PlayForSure music store, except the subscription is paid by advertisers.

"We shipped it on Saturday. Then on Sunday, we rested." -- Steve Jobs on the iPad launch

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