After a decade of fighting the music industry appears to have given in and in a few hours (midnight EST) you will be able download Qtrax that will give unlimited, no fee, no membership access to a 25 million back catalogue of tracks.
Naturally, Dizzy was delighted that this might Apple's iTunes business model (although he failed to mention Amazon's MP3 download store which, admittedly, has not launched in Europe yet).
The files will have DRM on them, and it remains to be seen if you can play them on an MP3 player. Apple won't be best pleased about it when the OSX version comes out. Once you have so many people around the world stealing copyrighted material I guess they knew that they would have embrace it and find a way of making money from it (i.e. advertising).
Unfortunately, it seems that—like most thieves—Qtrax weren't being entirely honest.
Last night we told you about Qtrax, a new P2P service aimed at combating illicit P2P by offering a legit service that compensates artists and labels via enforced advertising. In that story we briefly noted that Qtrax didn't appear to have all of its ducks in a row: the company was saying that it had signed all four major music labels, when it appeared that they hadn't. At the time it was rather unclear, however, because Qtrax told both Reuters and Wired that it had the necessary signatures.
This turns out to have been... what shall we say?... slightly premature.
When midnight came and went last night without an official launch, it became clear that there were indeed problems. For its part, Qtrax now says that it is in negotiations with all of the labels, but that admission came only after it was discovered that Qtrax had somewhat misrepresented itself.
Late last night the LA Times called around to confirm the deal and found that only Universal would say that it was close to a deal. EMI and Warner denied a deal was in place, and Peter Kafka says that Sony BMG has also denied that there was a deal in place. In short, no labels have signed on yet.
All of this points to signs of trouble for Qtrax, whose business model changed sometime last year from being an ad-supported way to encourage users to pay for music, to being an ad-supported way to deliver totally free music. Originally, Qtrax's DRM would have only given users so many ad-supported plays before a song would need to be purchased (think Zune sharing). We can only speculate, but the move to providing totally free downloadable music without ticking timebombs likely gave the labels pause.
Oh well, maybe next time, eh?