Here we go. Inching closer to a viable alternative to illegal file-sharing, Universal Backs Free Music Rival to iTunes.
Universal Music, the world's largest music company, has agreed to back a new venture that will allow consumers to download songs for free and instead rely on advertising for its revenues.Advertising in this country is out of control, and enduring advertising as the price of ... music might not be ideal, but hopefully this is a step in the right direction for a fair solution to digital distribution that makes happy and legal consumers while compensating artists (and hopefully helping record labels and other middle men stop being ridiculous).
"Offering young consumers an easy-to-use alternative to pirated music sites will be compelling," said Robin Kent, who is SpiralFrog's chief executive and the former head of the Universal McCann advertising agency. "SpiralFrog will offer those consumers a better experience and environment than they can get from any pirate site."
Still, consumers will only be able to download the songs to their computer and one other device, bringing up some copy protection restrictions that I don't enjoy.
Slowly but surely, we'll get this figured out.
UPDATE: Digital Music Weblog pounds this deal for its crippling DRM:
I've not often heard complaints about the price of music download services, it's not the price point that anyone has issue with. Quite opposite, I constantly hear from readers who would be more than happy to pay the 99 cent price per track, and in some cases more, only for non-DRM crippled and high quality files.
UPDATE II: BoingBoing questions the ads, the DRM restrictions, and interoperability.