The companies will make the tracks available as DRM-free MP3s
Yesterday the major cable TV provider and music store chain, Virgin Media, has made an announcement some had already predicted – together with Universal, the company will launch an unlimited music download subscription service. This service is thought out as a way to let all Virgin broadband customers in the UK to stream or download Universal tracks after their own hearts in exchange for a fee (which is yet to be revealed). Virgin added that it will further try to negotiate with other major labels similar deals.
While some have long advocated the need for such services, others (the music labels lawyers) choose to emphasize the lack of influence this kind of services will have on illegal file sharing which, they claim, is continuing to cause industry great damage in revenue.
IFPI Chairman John Kennedy commented: “It epitomizes the way in which the music business is adapting to the digital world, embracing new business models and responding to the changing needs of consumers.”
“It also marks new ground in ISPs’ willingness to take steps to protect copyrighted content on their networks, and that sets a very encouraging example to the whole industry.”
Virgin pointed out: “We expect the deal will drive a material reduction in the unauthorized distribution of its repertoire across Virgin Media’s network.”
A new alternative with respect to digital music is now at hand through the German retailer Saturn which has launched its online music store free of DRM.
The announcement comes along with the establishment of the company as Europe’s first reseller to make available the entire Universal Music Group’s library DRM-free. Although, for the moment the offering will be exclusively devoted to Universal (with DRM-free music) it won’t be long until other labels will join in.
Saturn’s store will include 215,000 Universal tracks in the best quality available for MP3, 320k VBR and which can be purchased for $1.15 USD.
Following a publishing arrangement with EMI and Sony/ATV (updated) last month Qtrax continued its development plan and shook hands now with the largest major label, Universal Music Group.
As Qtrax has a deal standing by with Universal’s publishing group, any legal holdups keeping the company from including Universal’s music in its service are now gone.
Qtrax is an ad-supported Windows-only P2P application based on Songbird open-source media player that allows users share DRM-protected music with each other for free. The role of DRM is to ensure that the songs won’t “pass” onto unauthorized networks, but also to set up the "parameters" Qtrax will use to know exactly how much to pay artists, labels and publishers. There are ads being showed while you’re searching and downloading and there’s always the option to purchase music and merchandise using the service.
The company’s future is starting to look bright as other labels are likely to get in line behind Universal and we might not be surprised to find Qtrax some time from now making available more music than iTunes currently does, for free. However, lately the company has been bumping into different licensing issues which prove that Qtrax’s ambition to offer the approximately 25 million songs you can find on file sharing networks might be a hard stone to carry.
A Mac version release is due on May 18.