Qtrax's backtrack: We don't have 25m songs

30 Jan 2008
00:00

Nothing wins attention like "free", especially on the web. And especially when it comes to music.

It's no surprise that a New York outfit, Qtrax, has created a buzz in the past week with its promise of free and legal P2P music downloads.

Qtrax formally launched its ad-supported service at the MIDEM music conference this week, promising free access to a catalogue of more than 25 million songs.

The problem: it didn't have the rights to 25 million tracks. It didn't in fact have the rights to any of the big four catalogues - EMI, Warner, Universal and Sony BMG.

CEO Allan Klepfisz promises a deal is imminent. "[W]e have decided that we will provide activation keys shortly upon final execution of all pertinent contracts,' he said in an AFP report.

But it's a little counter-intuitive to see why the big labels, with CD sales in freefall, would embrace an unknown website with no user base. If ad-based content is about anything, it's about scale.

Having spent the best part of a decade dawdling their way to the digital age, the labels are only just committing to paid download platforms, with Amazon and Nokia's Ovi recently emerging to challenge iTunes.

Free and ad-based downloads will come, but not yet.

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