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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 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

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer

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