Apple Store“A new online music company said today that it would make a huge catalog of songs from the world’s largest record company, the Universal Music Group, available for consumers to download free,” Eric Pfanner reports for The International Herald Tribune.

“SpiralFrog is the latest to offer a challenge to Apple Computer’s hugely successful iTunes service, which allows consumers to download songs legally for 99 cents apiece, and its many smaller imitators,” Pfanner reports.

Pfanner reports, “For consumers, SpiralFrog’s free downloads will come with many more strings attached than Apple’s paid ones do. Users of SpiralFrog will have to sit through advertisements, and will be prevented by special software from making copies of the songs they download or from sharing them with other people.”

“They will have to revisit the SpiralFrog web site regularly to keep access to the music they download. And the songs will be encoded in Microsoft’s WMA format, meaning they will probably not work on Apple iPod portable music players,” Pfanner reports.

“Given the fragmentation of the digital music business — the hundreds of would-be challengers to iTunes mainly have minuscule shares of the market — analysts said that new services like SpiralFrog would face difficult challenges, despite the lure of ‘free’ music,” Pfanner reports.

“The music industry must also manage its relationship with Apple carefully, analysts said,” Pfanner reports. “SpiralFrog took pains to discourage talk that its free-with-advertising model would threaten Apple’s pay-per-song service. ‘This is certainly not being pitched as a challenger to iTunes,’ Neville Hobson, a spokesman for SpiralFrog, said. ‘It’s a very different model. It’s complementary to iTunes.’”

Full article here.

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