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Free, legal music downloads
January 27, 2008 9:21 PM   Subscribe


 
broken
posted by empath at 9:28 PM on January 27, 2008


You lost me at DRM. Better luck next time, music industry.

In other news, James Blunt is still a douche.
posted by saraswati at 9:32 PM on January 27, 2008 [5 favorites]


They contain DRM and you can't play 'em on your iPod (or, I'm just guessing here, any other device that doesn't run Windows).
posted by hattifattener at 9:32 PM on January 27, 2008


broken

The Qtrax link is slow. Probably a lot of people who don't realize it won't work with their iPods are trying to log on.
posted by The Deej at 9:38 PM on January 27, 2008


Qtrax Isn't entirely free, as it adopts an ad-supported model. There's no present support for iPods, and the information from Qtrax's server logs will be given to the labels for determining listener tastes and the popularity of particular artists at a given time, much like Billboard, NME or CMJ. Downloaded tracks are good for 5 playbacks, which would be comprable to a sponsored "free" rental.
posted by Smart Dalek at 9:45 PM on January 27, 2008


RCRD LBL
posted by nitsuj at 9:50 PM on January 27, 2008


The service will use the “peer-to-peer” network, which contains not just hit songs but rarities and live tracks from the world’s leading artists.
The one and only "peer-to-peer" network. Obviously, theirs is the only one.
posted by Memo at 9:58 PM on January 27, 2008


Here that sound?

It's the barn door, slamming in the wind.

No use trying to flog the horse, it has not only escaped, it is also dead.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 10:03 PM on January 27, 2008


As someone who is not opposed to buying music, this is interesting. There's no way heavy DRM content can completely stave off the illegal front, but the service that it provides theoretically fills the gap for 'responsible pirates' and might be the bit that gives the record companies the edge in the public morality discussion - which they've been losing ground in for a while. (All of this is dependent on if it's truly as advertised, of course.) We will see.
posted by pokermonk at 10:04 PM on January 27, 2008


Lame.

Someone should tell the labels that their model is broken.
posted by bshort at 10:04 PM on January 27, 2008


This is pretty much what eMusic, Napster 2.0, et al. have been doing for some time, amirite?
posted by dhartung at 10:10 PM on January 27, 2008


Except "free," a limited number of times you can play a given track, and with ads all over it.

Other than that, ur-rite.
posted by bshort at 10:14 PM on January 27, 2008


I was going to post this. But only because I wanted everyone to bash it and talk about how bad it is going to fail. /it will/ Almost instantly a tool will come out to save them wile ripping out the DRM.
posted by Mr_Zero at 10:15 PM on January 27, 2008


10/23 Never Forget!
posted by geoff. at 10:17 PM on January 27, 2008


So no mac? No ipod? :P
posted by miss lynnster at 10:25 PM on January 27, 2008


looked around the site, Mac beta opens march 18th, so there's that to look forward to...

That said, this will fail miserably. Yes, could I please have the same thing I already had but with ads and the song I just started to like stop playing? Yes? Awesome, sign me up!
posted by slapshot57 at 10:34 PM on January 27, 2008


We were only Freshmen.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 10:47 PM on January 27, 2008


Would I be breaking the law if I used Audio Hijack to record the audio?
posted by Brocktoon at 10:53 PM on January 27, 2008


I like how the article makes the mac/ipod incompatibility sound like apple's fault. Because, you know, the mac platform totally does not support universal standards like mp3 and aiff.

Oh, and then of course I was completely surprised when the article went on to mention microsoft is one of the primary advertisers.
posted by matt_od at 11:10 PM on January 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


The singer James Blunt gave Qtrax a cautious welcome. “I’m amazed that we now accept that people steal music,” he said. “I was taught not to steal sweets from a sweet shop. But I want to learn how this service works, given the condition the music industry is in.”

Your editor called...

The singer James Blunt Eponysterical gave removed his mouth from the ever-drying RIAA teet for a few moments to give Qtrax a cautious welcome. “I’m amazed that we now accept that people steal music,” he said. “I was taught not to steal sweets from a sweet shop and that's the same thing they're doing the same thing it's precisely the same they're knocking over candy stores with guns and they're all hopped up on drugs and they're insane and robbing people and you could be next. But Because I'm an idiot, I want to learn how this service works,. given tThe condition the music industry is in. is utter desperation.

Now, tell me more about this THE PEER TO PEER thing they have.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:21 PM on January 27, 2008 [6 favorites]


BETA DOWNLOAD
AVAILABLE AT MIDNIGHT, EST!

I'll assume the "EST" stands for "estimate" and the day I'll assume is anyone's guess.
posted by VulcanMike at 11:46 PM on January 27, 2008


To be fair, James Blunt lives in a world where there is no such thing as Cockney rhyming slang.
posted by motty at 11:47 PM on January 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


Is the music industry embracing free, legal music downloads?

No. No, they are not.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:26 AM on January 28, 2008 [4 favorites]


James Blunt is amazed that people download music. I'm amazed that people pay to hear his.

Anyhoo: I thought this looked good, and was a bit surprised at the snarking. OK, I can easily download music from other P2P networks, but the advantage of something like this would be consistent metadata and file quality*, files that are actually what they say they are, etc. Plus, if money is really going to the artist, I'd prefer to support a service like this.

Then I read Smart Dalek's first link, and realised we only get to play the songs five times. In other words, it's slightly better than what you'd get from eMusic; only with ads.

And, of course, the site still hasn't launched yet, and there are reports that the record labels haven't actually agreed anything with Qtrax.

This is a step in the right direction, but it's not quite what I was looking for.

*Assuming the Qtrax people aren't idiots, I guess.
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:31 AM on January 28, 2008


I think the only thing that would get me to deal with the record companies is if they released something as usable as allofmp3.com was. I understand if it has to be a bit more expensive (although $1/track is high, maybe half that?) I will not, however, accept DRM in any way, shape, or form. Nor will I accept being force-fed any file type other than mp3 or files of quality less than 192 vbr.

Come to think of it, I'd just buy whatever software they were using, jack up the prices a little bit, and do business exactly the way they used to. They had the model pretty much exactly right.
posted by Mitrovarr at 12:46 AM on January 28, 2008


Hey. Mr Blunt...
posted by seanyboy at 1:10 AM on January 28, 2008


Remember when all the major credit card processors stopped working with AllOfMp3.com? They were pretty much forced to a model of giving away their music for free; except it was DRM and you could only play it on some special crappy piece of software they supplied.

Someone cracked the DRM within 12 hours, and it was mp3s for all, untill they fixed the DRM again soon after and the whole thing died a sudden, forgettable death.

Kinda makes me think of Qtrax. Simply, if I can't listen to a song on my car stereo, or on my Nokia while on the bus, or on the stereo in my bedroom through the mp3s-on-a-thumbdrive feature, I don't know when I would ever listen to it.

Amazon's "pay for a real mp3" store is the real future, not this shit.
posted by Jimbob at 1:24 AM on January 28, 2008


allofmp3 is still trading as mp3sparks.com. Access to it is a little intermittent but it's still up and being regularly updated. They don't currently have a credit card processor though, but for a while they somehow had WorldPay, which is the most legit processor there is.
posted by cillit bang at 2:04 AM on January 28, 2008


I'm surprised by the reaction this is getting, as this seems to be a much more revolutionary model than just paying for mp3 downloads. It's effectively legalising peer-to-peer downloads. Sure the lack of support for mac is unfortunate, but this is presumably a temporary problem. It seems to me that the music industry has resigned itself to making money out of merchandise and live concerts, and accepted that in the future recorded music sales will be a much smaller part of their operation.
posted by greytape at 4:02 AM on January 28, 2008


It seems to me that the music industry has resigned itself to making money out of merchandise and live concerts, and accepted that in the future recorded music sales will be a much smaller part of their operation.

I can't help but think this means that major label contracts are going to screw artists over even more in the short term as the suits try to get more of the live performance revenue stream. At least until things hit a point where the major labels are unnecessary. We're already there for distribution, but I haven't seen anything to replace the promotion and marketing arms of a large organization (and don't tell me it's word of mouth on mp3 blogs and "the long tail").
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 4:20 AM on January 28, 2008


Brocktow, thanks to DMCA, that would be worse than raping a crowd of babies.

TITLE 17 > CHAPTER 12 > § 1201-1205
(3) Statutory damages.—
(A) At any time before final judgment is entered, a complaining party may elect to recover an award of statutory damages for each violation of section 1201 in the sum of not less than $200 or more than $2,500 per act of circumvention, device, product, component, offer, or performance of service, as the court considers just.
(B) At any time before final judgment is entered, a complaining party may elect to recover an award of statutory damages for each violation of section 1202 in the sum of not less than $2,500 or more than $25,000.
...
(a) In General.— Any person who violates section 1201 or 1202 willfully and for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain—
(1) shall be fined not more than $500,000 or imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or both, for the first offense; and
(2) shall be fined not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned for not more than 10 years, or both, for any subsequent offense.

posted by a robot made out of meat at 4:36 AM on January 28, 2008


It's effectively legalising peer-to-peer downloads.

Peer-to-peer is just the delivery method. It's still going to be only the artists, from only the labels that are approved, and there are going to be serious strings attached, like ads, and like the limit on five plays. Not revolutionary at all. Who cares if the data comes from some fancy peer-to-peer system, or from a web server?

It seems to me that the music industry has resigned itself to making money out of merchandise and live concerts, and accepted that in the future recorded music sales will be a much smaller part of their operation.

As others have said, there appears to be some question as to whether the industry has signed onto this service, but even then, I keep getting back to the fact that what they're offering are songs that won't play on any devices I actually listen to music on, and that I'm only allowed to listen to five times. That's not a replacement or an enhancement of traditional music distribution methods.

The music industry is still in the mindset that it has to sell albums, and stars, and that albums are special items that are works of art, that command a premium price. The music listener, thanks in a large part to illegal filesharing, just wants quantity. The internet has opened a whole world of music up - it's no longer the dozen big-name millionaire artists, and saving up to buy one album a month - people want gigabytes of music. They want to put hundreds of songs on shuffle at a party, have just the right track for their mix CDs, fill their iPod with music for their daily commute and never hear the same song twice. Do you know how much it costs to fill a, say, an 80gb iPod with songs at market prices? A back-of-the-envelope calculation I just did comes out at about $25,000.

People want quantity and that's a good thing, because bands only put out so many songs, and the more songs people are buying, the more money there is going to more artists. But there's a problem. The record industry is caught in the model of investing large sums of money in promoting just a few artists. It's much easier to derive your profits from a dozen artists selling millions of albums each, than a few hundred artists selling only 10,000 albums each. That's what they're scared to death of - they don't know how to manage that model, because once you cut out the necessity of marketing and promotion, once people start grabbing any music they can find on the internet instead of buying what the radio or the TV ads or the posters in music stores tell them to, the record companies don't have a place anymore. All online music sites, whether you're talking iTunes or allofmp3.com, whether you're talking Qtrax or AmieStreet, are set to take over almost all of the role of the record company. There's very little to stop bands putting their music for sale online themselves, and there are many sites out there that facilitate this. I've even made a few bucks myself. The only role record companies will have will be to fund the recording of albums, and even this is becoming less and less necessary as technology becomes cheaper, better, and more accessible to artists.

The bell tolls for the record companies. But they just need to make that final step, move from music as a luxury item to music as a comnodity, start selling songs for 20c each so an album costs the same as a beer, and restructure their finances away from relying on profits from a few superstars and brief trends. They will lose out. They won't make as much money. But they might just still survive. And more money will go to more bands, and music fans will be able to get their hands on more of the music they want.
posted by Jimbob at 4:59 AM on January 28, 2008


From The Register about this: [Quote:]
It’s a marriage of two desperate industries – the music business, and the ad-supported web startup. To steal a phrase from Sun8217;s Scott McNealy, it8217;s like watching two garbage trucks colliding.
posted by DreamerFi at 5:03 AM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


replace those 8217 with an '
posted by DreamerFi at 5:03 AM on January 28, 2008


I should add, on the first point, that I would actually be much happier if the songs were coming from a dedicated web server, rather than a peer-to-peer system. Why would I want to hope other people who have the songs I want are online and have a high speed connection?
posted by Jimbob at 5:07 AM on January 28, 2008


"Music industry"? I'm sure you meant "music distribution and promotion industry".
posted by Horken Bazooka at 5:12 AM on January 28, 2008


I hear there's musics on the peer-to-peers.
posted by oaf at 5:37 AM on January 28, 2008


I do not like these musics nor the manner in which I would be made to listen to them.

Good day, sir!
posted by fleetmouse at 5:56 AM on January 28, 2008


That's what they're scared to death of - they don't know how to manage that model

I agree with the general notion of what you're saying, Jimbob, but I gotta call BS on this particular [pomt. They've been in the game for a long time; they have many, many layers of production and business management style. There are many, many sub-labels and imprints that cover the 'many artists, fewer sales' model. Remember when Wilco left Warner/Reprise to sign with Warner's Nonesuch?

The difficulty the labels are having, I think, has more to do with integrating digital distribution into their current model. They've been trying an 'added value' approach for a while, adding special DVDs and bonus discs to CD packages. From what I've read, it hasn't worked so well. However, I wonder if streaming new albums for free on artists' sites has been effective or in the very least not harmful. Because it seems the idea with QTrax is to give people free access to the databases but draw the line at ownership. If a listener wants to own the music, then they'll need to purchase it. This isn't to replace the selling of music, it's to replace the promoting of it. ie. It's not about CDs, it's about radio. I

It's fair, so long as a free ownership model remains intact. Having DRM on purchased music is rotten, but getting five full listens of anything in the majors' catalogs for free is a really interesting prospect. It will certainly give their imprints an enormous edge in getting artists out there and known, generating ownership sales down the road.

The deal is certainly soured by iPods not being able to play the tracks, but I don't think it means the entire concept is misguided.
posted by pokermonk at 7:35 AM on January 28, 2008


Qtrax Isn't entirely free, as it adopts an ad-supported model.

I realize this is the conventional use of the term 'free' in this context, but I object nonetheless. Claiming that and and ad-supported model is not free is to adopt the industry's use of the term and ultimately cedes the entire argument to them.

This is the argument. TV and music have always been and continue to be legally free to me, the viewer/listener over broadcast channels. (I'm going to use 'viewer' to generally apply to the viewer or listener). Producers/production entities have never collected revenue from viewers on these broadcasts. I have never paid one cent directly to anyone who ever made a tv show or song for seeing it on TV or listening on the radio.

All ad-supported business models are free to the end user. If it costs me no money, it is free. Over the air television is free. I currently can watch anything on network television legally and without paying a dime. FM radio is likewise free. The Supreme Court in Sony v. Universal held that the recording of programs off the air (timeshifting) is also legal and not a violation of copyright law.

Yes, I realize that the advertiser pays to have the content delivered to me for free. I also realize that I have to buy a TV, radio or computer to obtain these broadcasts (or downloads). But that is not what anyone considers to be part of the equation. If so, the reductio ad absurdum of this argument is that I have to spend my time watching or listening, and because time is valuable, simply listening to music isn't free. None of this is part of the argument.

So TV shows and radio broadcasts have always been free, because advertisers were paying broadcasters who in turn paid networks who in turn pay content producers. So somebody somewhere is paying, but it isn't me. So it is free to me.

Furthermore, and here is the really important bit - I have no legal relationship with any of the parties involved in putting that TV show on the TV that I paid for. I signed no contract, and there is no license agreement. I am not obligated to and am totally unencumbered by them. I make no promise or representation to watch the ads that "pay" for the TV show, nor do the broadcasters make any such promise or representation that viewers will watch the ads. Companies that sell dish soap or cars spend money on tv stations to air their commercials. That is is contract. These companies do not spend money to show viewers their ads, because they have no idea who if anyone is seeing them, nor can networks promise that viewers will see them. At best they can argue that out of a tiny but allegedly representative sample of TV viewers, some percentage watched the broadcaster's program in the prior time period.

And if you argue that there is an implied license to view the commercials along with the program, you set yourself on the road that would enable a website to sue you for copyright infringement for altering the appearance of their page by running AdBlock or pop-up blockers. I am not a criminal for blocking your dumb Google ads, and I am not a criminal for ignoring your dumb commericals.

So that was the status quo. Now they are trying to not only change the rules now, but to do that they are forced to alter history and recast what was happening in the past in a completely self-serving and arbitrary manner.

Set aside the law for a moment. It is not a breach of my or the conventional person's moral code to download music over the internet. It is not analogous to borrowing a friend's CD and copying it no matter how much anyone says it is. It is analogous to timeshifting a TV or radio broadcast. I missed The Simpsons last night. I could have legally taped it on my legal VCR and legally skipped the commercials. In fact, I legally could have started and stopped the recording of the show to prevent recording the commercials in the first place. But instead of doing this, I am going to borrow my friend's copy of the show (also legal, both the borrowing and my friend's timeshifting). My friend is the Pirate Bay. Yes, the Pirate Bay doesn't have Fox's ads, but had I watched the show live at 8:00 pm Eastern, I can assure you I would not have seen a single ad anyway. And whether I saw the ads is not part of the legal analysis.

Same with music. Music from the Internet does not replace CD's. There is no cover, no sleeve, no physical CD. Video on the internet does not replace DVDs for the same reasons. I understand that everyone calls these things "files" and I understand all the technical similarties between music files on a hard drive and music on a CD. My point is that all those technical similarities are (a) irrelevant, and (b) are lost ground in the argument.

What is happening now is that the content distributors are for the first time ever trying to collect money directly from me, in effect infinitely raising the price on what I got for free. If I ever use Qtrax, I assure you I will not hear or see an ad.

The content producers, the people who actually make the thing I watch or hear, do get compensated from me. Ever song I listen to increases the probability massively of a ticket sale at a movie theater or concert. Furthermore, I start to tell others about the artist. The industry calls it "buzz", or "word-of-mouth" to downplay the fact that it is free advertising that is far more valuable than anything they could get from Ogilvy or BBDO.

The point is this: the content itself has been legally free to end consumers for decades, and that the rapid spread of "pirating" online is really an extension of this legally free consumption, rather than a sudden universally popular crime spree.

Back to the law. The problem with the law as it currently stands is that people were so quick to educate the "old fashioned" courts about the exciting and amazing new world of computers that they failed to see the legal point that viewing copyrighted work is not the same as distributing it or copying it. Because of this, we have the Napster case focused on copying of .mp3 files over a network instead of on people sharing music.

(Side note: DMCA is not a copyright law in the traditional sense. Yes, I know that's what it was called for PR purposes, but those titles have no legal weight. DMCA is a restriction on technology to circumvent encryption and DRM. DMCA does not apply to VCRs, because they have to DRM or decoding capability, and ultimately nothing on that RCA yellow running into my TV is covered under it. I wonder why no one sells these anymore, when they still sell tape decks.)
posted by Pastabagel at 9:17 AM on January 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


Only an added sign of the times, that music will be "free" one way or another to the consumer..
posted by salvomix at 9:43 AM on January 28, 2008




just to amplify armitage shank's point: None of the big 4 labels have signed on, meaning that this shoddy, DRM-based system that doesn't work with the most popular MP3 player is now playing fast and loose with the facts. Proceed with caution.
posted by jenkinsEar at 10:29 AM on January 28, 2008


"So TV shows and radio broadcasts have always been free, because advertisers were paying broadcasters who in turn paid networks who in turn pay content producers. So somebody somewhere is paying, but it isn't me. So it is free to me."

Thus we see the crux of this whole problem. Somebody pays. It may appear free to you, but nothing is truly free. The freedoms that Americans take for granted were paid for by the blood of patriots. Or so we say. While we consumers have obviously bought the illusion that music is free, advertisers and major record labels have yet to accept that 'free' music pays.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:13 AM on January 28, 2008


Pastabagel: What is happening now is that the content distributors are for the first time ever trying to collect money directly from me, in effect infinitely raising the price on what I got for free.

I'm feeling a little dense this morning, so I don't quite get what you're trying to say here. Can you expand on how they're trying to collect money directly from you?

Just on the DRM: the very first article I saw on Qtrax suggested that the DRM was in place so they could track which songs were being downloaded, and pay the relevant artists/companies. But then surely they could track downloads without including DRM?

As a general point, I'm 100% with Jimbob: charge less for music, people will buy more of it, and it will balance out the same. Sell me a digital download of an album for a couple of bucks, and I won't buy 20 of them per year, like I might with CD's - I'll buy a couple of hundred. I'm actually happy to pay for music, it's just that the price at the moment is ridiculous.
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:17 PM on January 28, 2008


Can you expand on how they're trying to collect money directly from you?

By replacing unauthorized downloads with legal ones that cost money, like iTunes.

As a general point, I'm 100% with Jimbob: charge less for music, people will buy more of it, and it will balance out the same. Sell me a digital download of an album for a couple of bucks, and I won't buy 20 of them per year, like I might with CD's - I'll buy a couple of hundred.

I have a better idea. Why not let Google pay an ASCAP fee like the radio stations, have google archive everything, and you use their search to download songs and pay nothing? Google would make money on search they way they make money on search for everyone else, you get the benefit of a extremely simple interface, and artists get paid.

The way it is now, I search for files using google, I have to click ten times before I get a working link, and the only one getting paid is google.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:38 PM on January 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oh I see, I thought you were talking about Qtrax. Thanks.

The Google/ASCAP idea is interesting (though I guess it would only reward song composers, so it doesn't directly deal with payments to band members who don't write the songs, or to producers/engineers/etc). Also there's issues of poor quality files/bad metadata. Maybe if it was a community like Oink, making money from ads like Google, and paying the ASCAP fee?

I think we're both (all?) agreed that the current model is stupid and unsustainable, and that something needs to replace it, anyway.
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:49 PM on January 28, 2008


DRM is a no-go. I'll stick to bittorrent, right or wrong.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 2:15 PM on January 28, 2008


This is pretty much what eMusic, Napster 2.0, et al. have been doing for some time, amirite?
I don't know anything about Napster 2.0, but eMusic has no DRM.
posted by Flunkie at 5:23 PM on January 28, 2008


I haven't seen anything to replace the promotion and marketing arms of a large organization (and don't tell me it's word of mouth on mp3 blogs and "the long tail").

Darren Hayes does this with his Powdered Sugar label (which is just him) - he and his close-knit group handle all the marketing and promotion, and he's made a lot of use of MySpace and YouTube. I've seen quite a bit of indie promotions going around too, though it tends to be more of a subculture thing.
posted by divabat at 8:43 PM on January 28, 2008


Does "more of a subculture thing" mean "only their mates ever heard about it"?
posted by cillit bang at 2:04 AM on January 29, 2008


I do not understand about the peer at this time. Please remove the peer from my Internets.
posted by flabdablet at 3:13 AM on January 29, 2008


Qtrax delays debut.

The ambitious, ad-supported music service promised unlimited music downloads with the blessing of the major recording companies.

But that claim began to unravel just hours before Qtrax's scheduled debut Monday when Warner Music Group issued a statement that it had not authorized the firm to distribute its artists' music.

posted by The Deej at 5:22 AM on January 29, 2008


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