FREE Music!! 25,000,000 Songs! Legal!
Those are the claims of on the current home page of Qtrax, the latest entrant in the downloadable music fray.
All I have to do, of course, is sit through advertising while downloading. Oh, and I also have to download their player in order to play the music I’ve downloaded. OK, so haven’t we already been down this route before with, you know, Spiral Frog?
Well, there is one big difference from Spiral Frog: the fact that right now the major labels are all saying “Qtrax? Who-trax?”
Still, if they actually had 25,000,000 songs, I might be persuaded to ignore their advertising in order to get some obscurity from the 1980s which still hasn’t ever been officially digitized, like Lloyd Cole’s “Love Your Wife” or The Cat Heads “Alice on the Radio” or Easterhouse’s first record. Or, even better, the Odelay reissue with all of those b-sides. Perfect!! I’d love to have the b-sides, but I really don’t need to buy Odelay again.
That is if, and only if, that music was portable. If I could take those songs a high-quality .mp3z and put them in my file system to hang out with the rest of my .mp3z, and listen to them on my iPod or my Squeezebox or on an .mp3 disc when and wherever I damn well pleased.
Not surprisingly, their web site seems to be mum on whether or not I can do that. I’m going to assume that means that I can’t.
Nevertheless, I downloaded their player, Songbird (which is a pretty good name, actually) (just as Qtrax is a pretty bad name), just to see what I could see. As it turns out, not much. Currently, I can’t do anything with it but play music I already possess. I can’t sign up for an account. I can’t search those 25,000,000 songs that they claim to have. Hell, I can’t download the (P2P concert exclusive!!!!!) Daft Punk concert Qtrax has featured on their home page.
But here’s what I can do: I can play songs I already own while watching advertisements for The Sharper Image and something called “Music 123.” Gee, thanks.
Here’s my guess: the Qtrax sales department promised to deliver a certain amount of eyeballs to their sponsors by a certain time period, so they decided to launch without the actual major label deals in place, figuring that they’d eventually get the deals signed, and in the meantime, they would start getting some income. Hell, I’ve even mentioned their sponsors in this piece. Eyeballs!!
Look, using P2P technology as a distribution method for legal music is a great idea. I wouldn’t even mind trading advertising for portability. But, apparently, Qtrax has jumped the gun on all of it, and what they seem to have is a huge mess on every level.
It’s 2008 — 10 years on from when “.mp3” entered the vernacular as another way of saying “song” — and only Amazon, Emusic and (non-DRM) iTunes are doing digital music right.
Meanwhile, if Qtrax does end up getting a bunch of great, obscure music, as well as true portability, someone let me know, OK?