Tuesday, September 18, 2007

SpiralFrog debuts with free, ad-supported music downloads

Digital music service SpiralFrog officially launched today, just over a year since its initial announcement and after several delays due to music licensing issues. The ad-supported music service, which has been in beta since late 2006, boasts over 800,000 tracks and 3,500 music videos available at launch. SpiralFrog promises to fight piracy by making music available to users at an attractive price: free.

SpiralFrog is able to do this by requiring the user to view ads in order to download the music, and has a revenue-sharing deal with the labels that have signed on thus far. The service is inherently Mac-unfriendly, however, as it requires users to have Windows Media Player 10 or 11 under Windows XP or Vista installed. Why WMP? Because the files that come from SpiralFrog are DRMed. The service relies on your eyeballs to pay for that music, after all, and requires the user to log in and view ads at least once every 30 days. If that doesn't happen, all music downloaded from that account will become disabled. The tracks cannot be burned to CD or transferred to the ever-popular iPod. The files can, however, be transferred to (no more than two) other, WMP-compatible digital music players.

We decided to give SpiralFrog a try to see what it was all about. Downloading anything naturally requires registration on the site first and the installation of an ActiveX Download Manager. After jumping through all of these hoops, we began to search for songs to download.

Much of the music available at launch is from Universal Music Group, which signed on with SpiralFrog last August. EMI is also on board with SpiralFrog, as are a number of independent artists and music labels. Still, though, the selection available on the web site seemed somewhat limited to us, although SpiralFrog founder Joe Mohen says that he expects to have more than 2 million tracks available over the next several months.

Source: http://arstechnica.com

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