MidemNet 2008: Qtrax launch crashes as major labels deny deals

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qtrax.jpgCall me a fusspot, but if I was launching a high-profile new music service in front of the entire music industry, I’d make darn sure I had signed’n’sealed contracts from all the labels I was announcing were taking part. Sadly, it seems Qtrax didn’t have the same view.

The company launched its new legal P2P service at the MidemNet conference on Sunday. It’ll offer free music downloads, funded by advertising. The company claimed that it had all four major labels signed up – Universal Music Group, Warner Music, Sony BMG and EMI. However, yesterday all four denied that this was the case (although Universal says it’s in negotiations).

Was Qtrax lying? It’s possible that some or all of the labels did have deals with the company at one point – but that they’ve either expired, or didn’t cover the download model that Qtrax is launching with now (for example, they may have related to streaming music online only). Either way, it’s made a mockery of the launch.

Check the quotes from Qtrax CEO Alan Klepfisz, who’s been talking to CNET about the whole affair: “It’s true, some of the deals may not be locked in ink, but it’s also true that we had understandings. In some cases, we had endorsements.”

I’d still go for the ‘locked in ink’ option every time. Anyway, the result is that while you can download Qtrax’s client application, you can’t actually download anything through it – just import and play your own songs. The company says it’ll send activation keys to users once it’s signed off those contracts.

Qtrax website

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Stuart Dredge