Universal back catalogue to be made freely available by Xmas

Napster and other online unlimited music download services having little luck taking on Apple and the Internetional Federation of Phonographic Industries currently estimating a ratio of 40 illegal downloads to every legal download, it seems like the only other way of competing is to not charge for the tracks at all.  Well, this is exactly what Spiralfrog is planning to do once it launches its service in December later this year.  It will rely fully on advertising to cover the cost of the music it will offer.

The site already has heavy backing from Vivendi Universal Music Group and will make Universal’s entire back catalogue available free of charge via its service, along with recent hits.  The service will also make music available from various Independent labels, including video content and will be mainly targetted at the 13 to 34 year old age group. 

It is
unclear at this time what audio codec and bitrate will be used for the music offered with this service and what (if any) players the music can be transferred to, however it is fairly clear that some DRM scheme will be put in place.  Should this service turn out to be a major success, there is a good chance that the other big players including Sony BMG, Warner and EMI will follow, not to mention what may happen with Apple.  Thanks to our reviewer and section administrator
Womble for letting us know about this news:

It had to happen. A new legal music download service will be launched in December which will offer MP3s free at the point of delivery. New York-based Spiralfrog says its site will be fully funded by advertising.

The firm has some heavyweight backing in the shape of Vivendi Universal Music Group. Research apparently revealed consumers were willing to suffer ads for products relevant to them in exchange for free tunes.

Spiralfrog says it will make the entire Universal back catalogue available at no charge, including current hit parade favourites like Razorlight and Johnny Hallyday, together with its roster of classics from the likes of Stevie Wonder. Independent labels will be hosted too, along with video content.

As DRM is here to stay for a good while to come, never mind getting more sophisticated all the time, this alone may make many think twice of getting crippled music, even if it is available free of charge.  As it is unclear how the music will be offered, there is even a chance that the music may be stream-only, which obviously would be of no use to anyone wishing to carry their music on the move or build up their own personal collection.  On the other hand, I could easily see Napster really taking off if they offered unlimited tracks free of DRM and time limits.  However, the main issue in this case would be that some consumers may grab all the music they can straight away and stop paying the subscription.

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Source: HEXUS.net