Despite all the legal online music download stores that have launched offering music from the major labels, one thing they all have in common is a similar track pricing, usually around the 99c per track area. Now, Qtrax claims to be the first legal music file sharing service that lets consumers download free music from the four major labels. Seems too good to be true? Well, at the way things are appearing, the service is already beginning to look like a failure or at least a very humiliating start.
When Qtrax unveiled its launch over the weekend, which cost around £500,000 to present and featured artists such as James Blunt and LL Cool J, it turned out that none of the four major labels have actually signed any deals with Qtrax. All four major labels confirmed that they have not agreed a deal, while Warner and Universal said they were still in negotiations.
According to this c|net report, Qtrax has officially launched 24 hours after its planned launch time, but is already running into further problems: The site claims to be activating accounts in stages, does not specify how long one should wait, displays a "coming soon" message when any song download link is clicked and appears to list just over 9 million tracks instead of its claimed 30 million upon launch. There is also still no confirmation any of the four major labels signing any agreement with Qtrax.
Qtrax works in a way like an unlimited download subscription service, but instead of paying a flat-rate charge per month, the site relies on advertising to fund the service including music royalty charges and file sharing to distribute the music. While there are several other services that claim to offer free music, most only let the user stream the music, while ads are shown during playback or lack music from the major 4 labels and other well known labels.
Qtrax on the other hand uses DRM (most likely Windows Media DRM) and encourages users to sync their player with the PC every 30 days. Qtrax claims that it will offer an iPod-compatible version later on, although it is unclear how it will do so with Apple’s DRM, considering Apple does not license out its FairPlay DRM technology and could potentially deliver iPod firmware updates that disable 3rd party providers who use copy protection based on reverse engineering Apple’s DRM.