QTRAX launches, claiming legal access to 30 million tracks. Server overwhelmed

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QTRAX, which originally launched back in 2002 but closed down due to avoid the risk of legal action, has relaunched today.

It claims that users will be able to find and download between 25 and 30 million copyrighted music tracks, with the blessing of a large proportion of the music industry.

“QTRAX is a magical and game-changing service that revolutionizes the way fans consume digital music,” said QTRAX President and CEO Allan Klepfisz.

Well, possibly not revolutionary. We’ve seen a shift towards “free” ad-supported music streaming and download services recently.

According to reports, QTRAX offers all the benefits (to the user, at least) of traditional peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing networks, but regulates downloads so that only legitimate music, fully protected with the company’s own DRM system (oh, joy) can be used.

The DRM being used is supposed to stop users burning music to CDs, but tracks can still be downloaded and stored indefinitely on a PC, and transferred to music players. The downside of all this is pesky ads which will appear on the standalone music player application.

The company reckon they’ll have a Mac version of the software available from March, and even say they’ve found a way to get their protected audio tracks to work with an iPod, without interfering with Apple’s proprietary FairPlay system. It will be interesting to see how Apple responds to this.

Other QTRAX features includes the ability to find information and lyrics on bands, find music videos, reviews, and more. The service is also supposed to protect users from spyware, adware, and other nasties — a risk when using unfiltered P2P networks.

I would give an initial impression of the application, but the service has been so much in demand, that I was greeted with this message: “Due to overwhelming demand, Qtrax.com is currently unavailable. Please check back in 24 hours to download the first, free, and legal P2P music application. Thank you for your understanding.”

So, it looks like the initial buzz is good. Whether this model proves to be popular remains to be seen.

What do you think? Would you put up with ads, and yet more DRM, in order to get “free” (as in beer) music?

QTRAX

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Andy Merrett

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