After putting up a pretty Web page on Friday and having a splashy launch event at the MIDEM conference yesterday, QTrax–the long-in-the-works ad-supported peer-to-peer system that was supposedly going to have all four major labels on board–was supposed to launch its client at midnight ET. But there’s one small problem: Three of the four major labels don’t actually have deals in place with the service, thus throwing the “legal” part of the company’s whole “legal peer-to-peer” claim in serious doubt.
“Warner Music Group has not authorized the use of our content on Qtrax’s recently announced service,” WMG spokesman Will Tanous told SAI via e-mail. Universal Music Group, the world’s biggest music label, doesn’t have a deal with QTrax either but is in talks with the company, says a person familiar with the situation. The LA Times quotes an EMI pr person saying that they’re not in either. We haven yet to hear back from Sony-BMG, the fourth big major.
Here’s the QTrax response, as of 9:57 pm eastern Sunday night: “”We are in discussion with Warner Music Group to ensure that the service is licensed and we hope to reach an agreement shortly.”
QTrax officials had previously said they had deals with all four majors, which would give them access to a catalog at least as big as the 5 million tracks that Apple sells through its iTunes service. But we’re told that the service’s previous deal with Warner, signed in 2006, expired last year.
Launch delays strike again! Although it’s probably not a good sign that they decided to go through with the press blitz despite not having 75% of the major-label population on board. (Didn’t anyone learn the lessons of AnywhereCD?) The site’s sort of up, although people have been reporting issues with downloading the client to me. (I’m locked out until March 18 at least since I’m on a MacBook.) You can see its inner workings (no download required!) at music.qtrax.com; right now they appear to be offering albums from the labels they’re currently squabbling with, although given the delays that I’ve heard about I wouldn’t be surprised if those pages were just placeholders. At least they give you the option of buying digital copies of said albums through their Amazon affiliate links, right? I bet they’ll make tens of dollars off those today!
Warner, UMG, EMI: No Deals With Free Music Service QTrax (WMG) [Silicon Alley Insider]