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September 8, 2006

SpiralFrog adds EMI Music to ad-supported free download catalog

Last week when we mentioned the upcoming “free” music service, SpiralFrog, they had just inked a deal with Vivendi Universal to offer downloads of the music from their list. Now SpiralFrog has added EMI to their catalog:

SpiralFrog has reached an agreement with EMI Music Publishing, one of the largest music publishers in the world, to use its songs and lyrics for a music download service scheduled to roll out in a beta version by November.

SpiralFrog, which announced its first deal with Universal Music Group last week, plans to offer free song downloads, with the service funded through advertising.

“This is just the start of signing major labels and music publishers to offer their catalogs to the users of SpiralFrog,” said Neville Hobson, SpiralFrog spokesman.

It’s planned that songs will be playable on a user’s computer and transferable to two portable devices.

But the songs can’t be burned to a CD, and they can’t be shared with other people, he said. The songs will remain playable only as long as a person regularly logs into their SpiralFrog account.

SpiralFrog’s deal with EMI will also allow users to search and display the lyrics from EMI’s catalog, the companies said.

EMI holds more than one million copyrights, it said, and publishes artists including James Blunt, Eminem, Jay-Z and the Arctic Monkeys.

As I mentioned last week, I’m suspending judgement until I see how onerous the ads are. I guess I’m finding it hard to believe that the record labels are leaving any money on the table. Whatever the SpiralFrog plan, though, it seems to be music to the record labels’ ears.

Posted at 7:55 pm. Filed under Bargains, Companies, Freebies, Internet, Music downloads, SpiralFrog

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August 29, 2006

SpiralFrog offers free music downloads from Vivendi

Mark McSherry at Reuters:

SpiralFrog, a new music download service, on Tuesday said it would make Vivendi’s Universal Music Group’s catalog available for free legal downloading in the United States and Canada.

The new advertising-supported service, due to launch later this year, joins the ranks of rivals battling for a piece of the digital music market in the shadow of Apple Computer Inc’s dominant iTunes music store.

New York-based SpiralFrog said it would offer users of its free, Web-based service the ability to legally download music of Universal’s roster, which includes U2, Gwen Stefani and The Roots.

“Offering young consumers an easy-to-use alternative to pirated music sites will be compelling,” SpiralFrog Chief Executive Robin Kent said in a statement.

Kent said SpiralFrog’s business model is based on sharing income from advertising with content partners like Universal.

The company’s research revealed that consumers are willing to “pay” for their content by watching non-intrusive, contextually-relevant, targeted advertising, Kent said.

The SpiralFrog Web site won’t be ready to serve tunes until December, but it will be interesting to see how they define non-intrusive. The record companies are very insistent on getting their money so SpiralFrog is going to have to ensure that the ads get watched.

Update: Some pertinent details from Louis Hau at Forbes:

There’s a catch, of course. Actually two of them: First, consumers won’t be able to burn songs downloaded from SpiralFrog onto a blank CD. More important, all downloads will be formatted in Microsoft’s Windows Media Audio, or WMA, format. That means they’ll be playable on virtually any portable music player except the one that matters most: Apple Computer’s market-dominating iPod.

Well, you’ll be able to play them on your Windows PC at least.

Update 8/30: More details from Marshall Kirkpatrick at TechCrunch:

Spiral Frog will offer a desktop downloader for Windows Media Files (no iPods!) that can be listened to on one PC and two portable devices. Here’s the kicker – you must log in to the Spiral Frog service at least once per month, and see their ads, or your files will stop playing! The details aren’t fully set in stone, but it will be something like that. There will be links to third party sites of the record labels’ choosing if you’d like to buy your freedom to at least skip the ads.

Sounds like the ads are getting more intrusive by the second.

Spiral Frog will also offer far more than just music, but also video and other digital content. The selling point here is that users will be able to access media legally, without the malware, bad network connections and pirate’s shame that comes from other online media sources.

Well, it’s a dream.

Posted at 10:53 am. Filed under Apple, Bargains, Brands, Companies, Freebies, Internet, Music downloads, SpiralFrog

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