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The Bass Geek

Is Qtrax the Real Deal?

The basic premise of Qtrax is that the service provides free and legal downloads of major label tracks to users' computers.  Stellar idea, no?  Especially if the artists involved are getting paid their fair share.  I'm getting conflicting stories, though.

  • This story claims that all the major labels are behind it, that it's not compatible with the iPod, and that DRM and proprietary software will be involved (fair note: I'm a user of iTunes and the iPod, which does include provisions for proprietary software and DRM - however, the files I've ripped from my CDs will transfer to other media players and software.  According to the article, the tracks won't move at all).
  • This story backs up the first article on every point but the major label support - the claim here is that nothing has been put in place yet.
  • This story claims that the deals aren't in place but could be soon, doesn't worry about the DRM or software issue, and claims that iPods WILL be supported (again, I'm noting iPods here only because they are a dominant product in the player market - I'd be interested in hearing whether other media players are compatible as well).

So I'm getting conflicting information, the PC service is still in beta, there's no Mac version yet (it's promised on 3/18), and there's still the issues of DRM and ad-supported music (how will the ad revenue be distributed to artists, if at all).  That's a bunch of red flags to me at this point.

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  1. My RSS reader has been on fire with Qtrax stuff this morning. To summarize what I read: this thing uses Gnutella networks and is either sharing their own stuff or is tracking and adding DRM to files already out there. The DRM seems to be (by all guesses) Windows Playsforsure which means it won’t work with iPods or Zunes. The alleged iPod compatibility seems to be a reversed engineered FairPlay, which I’m sure Steve Jobs will love. Oh, and they jumped the gun on claiming the major label support.

    With each new story I read, this seems less and less likely to succeed.

  2. The choice of Playsforsure is a killer, since MS doesn’t even support it on their own new hardware.

    I agree with you – this thing is going to implode.

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