DRM War Update: QTrax

It should come as no surprise that people are still trying to get free music on the internet. Piracy and file swapping happens daily on massive levels that would probably turn a record executive green if they were fully aware of at least 50% of the volume. Luckily for the rest of the new and frontiersman-like recording industry, record executives are like mushrooms…they eat shit and grow in the dark, and in the end, you’re never sure which one is going to poison you or take you on a funky and psychedelic expedition. Similarly of good fortune for all of us…eating mushrooms isn’t mandatory or necessary anymore.

While the ultimate fate of DRM in general and player/company identified DRM specifically is still up in the air, there are a number of companies out there attempting to torpedo the industry by offering free mp3 downloads. Through deals with the major labels that tie-in to ad revenue generated by the site, these sites are offering songs, sometimes DRM protected, sometimes not. One of the big players that was geared to take the internet music download scene by storm this week was QTrax, a French based company that held a gala event this past weekend as a launch party. Apparently, they didn’t get the memo that the Warner group has not authorized the site to provide music from its label. Universal and EMI have also announced that they had no licensing deal ready yet and were still working on it. Not sure how a “free” music download site got to the point of throwing a launch party before it had wrapped up licensing and distribution sales with the major labels, but somehow they did. Guess it speaks to the necessity of having a solid business plan in place.

What I find more interesting is that not only is this site trying to provide music for free with the labels’ consent, but they’re allegedly trying to take a bite out of Apple, claiming that their music files will play on iPods. This would indeed be a big step as the only current music files that can play on the pod is either DRM-free or Apple FairPlay DRM tracks. How QTrax figures their DRM songs will make it onto the iPod is beyond me, but it will certainly be worth watching if and when the company starts allowing downloads.


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