Qtrax file-sharing service launches; promises free ‘iPod-compatible’ music downloads

“A revamped online file-sharing service aims to woo legions of music fans by offering unlimited, free song downloads that are compatible with iPods, and all with the blessing of major recording companies,” Alex Veiga reports for The Associated Press.

MacDailyNews Note: UPDATE: 10:52am EST: Qtrax’s claim of having ‘all major labels’ disputed, no deals signed with Warner, EMI, Universal

“Qtrax, which makes its debut Sunday, is the latest online music venture counting on the lure of free music to draw in music fans and on advertising to pay the bills, namely record company licensing fees,” Veiga reports.

“Qtrax [allows] users tap into file-sharing networks to search for music, but downloads come with copy-protection technology known as digital-rights management, or DRM, to prevent users from burning copies to a CD and calculate how to divvy up advertising sales with labels,” Veiga reports. “Qtrax downloads can be stored indefinitely on PCs and transferred onto portable music players, however.”

“The service, which boasts a selection of up to 30 million tracks, also promises that its music downloads will be playable on Apple Inc.’s iPods and Macintosh computers as early as March,” Veiga reports. “That’s unusual, as iPods only playback unrestricted MP3s files or tracks with Apple’s proprietary version of DRM, dubbed FairPlay.”

MacDailyNews Note: All DRM is proprietary, not just Apple’s.

Veiga continues, “‘We’ve had a technical breakthrough which enables us to put songs on an iPod without any interference from FairPlay,’ said Allan Klepfisz, Qtrax’s president and chief executive. Klepfisz declined to give specifics on how Qtrax will make its audio files compatible with Apple devices, but noted that ‘Apple has nothing to do with it.'”

MacDailyNews Take: Sounds like a RealNetworks’ “Harmony”-type kludge.

Full article here.


  1. Don’t these people realize that by advertising their services as “iPod-compatible”, they’re giving free publicity to Apple, basically telling people to buy the iPod?

    Apple wins, no matter how you look at it.

  2. Hmmm, this sounds like a possibly interesting site, but I’m not really excited about the possibility of a future iPod update wrecking any songs I’ve downloaded from the site…

    They should just do DRM free music there. It’s free anyway, so why not just remove the DRM??

  3. ‘We’ve had a technical breakthrough which enables us to put songs on an iPod without any interference from FairPlay,’

    … the boys in the lab are calling it an MP3. Our marketing dept. is working on a more buzz worthy name for it…

  4. I don’t know… “Free Music…” Isn’t this oxymoronic? Or just plain moronic? All the hoopla about the tv and music industries being controlled by Apple’s pricing plan(s), … the hoopla about FairPlay. And all of it, when you look below the surface, isn’t simply about what Apple does or doesn’t do, it’s about these industries being willing to do something that isn’t in some way paying homage to MS. But my point really is, the whole message of “Free” music is just crap. The industry doesn’t want us to steal music but we’re going to offer it to you free – on Windows first of course, and then maybe if we feel like it on Mac and Linux. It’s double talk – period.

    Whatever solution we all come up with I think that two criteria should be kept in tact: 1. No DRM, or at least much more end-user-accommodating DRM; 2. The end user pays a reasonable fee for that non/or very flexible DRM(less) product. The more that someone else pays for what I consume the less and less control I have over what I have – since I don’t own it. (This, by the way, is one of my huge problems with the current state of software licensing, but that’s for another day.)

    Is this so hard?: I want to buy music and tv shows online; I want to pay for these products out of my own pocket and therefore be the legal owner and end user on a per purchase basis; I want the freedom to use my purchased products any way that I choose, short of being able to resell or redistribute them outside of my own home or car(s). This last point may not be quite as simple as it sounds, but I think it is far from impossible.

    All of this dancing around purchasing media online and DRM, and subscription, and blah blah blah blah is just bogus bogus bogus. What this is all really about is which singular company is going to get 90 percent of our business, and right now MS and all of it’s partners are really pissed that Apple has beat everyone to the punch. So far the only legit. competition that Apple has, imho, is Amazon’s. Not platform specific, works with or without iTunes, I can use it personally where ever and when ever I want to on whatever device I want to.

    “Free Music”? – What a load…

  5. “Ford, McDonald’s and Microsoft are among the advertisers signed up to support what is thought to be the world’s largest legal music store. The service says that adverts will be nonintrusive and will not appear each time a song is played. As with iTunes, customers will have to download Qtrax software. They will own the songs permanently but will be encouraged to “dock” their player with the store every 30 days so it can gather information on which songs have been played.”


  6. The only way I can see this working is if they’re somehow hacking the iPod Touch and iPhone to run a DRM scheme (which will also work on Macs) and are hoping the SDK will legitimise it – unless it’s just mp3 or something.

  7. If all the studios are on board as they say, then there must be a catch that will only come to light at a future date because this makes no sense. Apparently you can download it via P2P, share it, and use it on your PC and iPod, but you can’t burn a CD??? WTF? Who wants to burn a CD? We all know it’s the act of burning CDs that is killing the music industry, right? Yeah, all those kids trading burned CDs … that’s the real trouble. Sheesh!

    I’ll bet they’ll embed ads. Each song will come with an advertisement and the DRM won’t allow you to fast-forward through it or rip the music file out.

  8. They never learn, do they?

    I wonder how long it will take Apple to break this hack. Qtrax really should have learned from Real and their Harmony crap. But then, blood on the iPod click-wheel is good fun for the whole family!

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