Written by Music


So what’s the deal with Qtrax?
On Saturday, Channel 4 News carried a report highlighting the launch of a new music service. Qtrax, they reported, had signed deals with the big four record companies and would be launching their free music service on Sunday.
Details were a little sketchy, but it was clear that the service would be ad-funded and users would have to register so that ads were targeted on a demographic basis. The service would be peer-to-peer, minimising the load on Qtrax’s servers.
The music would work on a number of portable devices, which would also serve the ads (quite how was not clear), and in a couple of months’ time there would be a version which worked on iPods.
Consumer listening trends would also be reported back to record companies.
The end of the Channel 4 News piece highlighted the fact Apple’s iTunes would have the most to fear (and although it didn’t mention it, Amazon announced at the weekend that it’s mp3 download service would be rolled out internationally in 2008).
I eagerly went to the site on Sunday, only to read that the “Beta Download” would be available at “midnight EST.”
Well I wasn’t going to wait until 5am Monday morning, but another look today sees the same announcement still up.
Of course last minute technical hiccups are common enough. But this doesn’t smell right.
A story from Australia reports denials from Warners about a deal being in place with Qtrax, and more denials from EMI and Universal. So what’s going on?
Qtrax president Allan Klepfisz told AP that Warner was expected to agree to terms “shortly”. He claimed that all other parties had agreed to the terms but some deals were yet to be formally signed.
Huh? So they don’t have deals currently in place? How were they going to launch at midnight today or any other day?
I’m not the only suspicious person either.
Maybe Qtrax will launch in a couple of days as advertised. But selling DRM-free downloads, or perhaps introducing subscription models might be the first moves to make for a beleaguered industry.