Major Labels Creep Further And Further Down The Free-Music Path

EMI has reached deals with ad-supported music services QTrax and SpiralFrog, allowing songs from their catalog to be delivered to users at no cost (well, aside from the opportunity cost of watching ads). Both services now have content from EMI and Universal Music Group available for download, but the majors’ deals with the slightly less embarrassingly named QTrax have a catch: See, QTrax had originally billed itself as a free peer-to-peer service, just before the service’s disastrous non-launch at the MIDEM conference earlier this year. But the words “peer-to-peer” strike fear in the hearts of major-label execs, so people who want to use QTrax for their legal free music will have to use an alternate downloading method.

Qtrax had originally planned to offer up the big labels’ tracks through a P2P service, which would theoretically mean that users were able to download a much wider variety of music than the stuff commonly available at digital stores like iTunes (AAPL). That’s because QTrax would offer tunes that were officially sanctioned by the majors, as well as “grey” music — stuff that the labels would likely approve, like live tracks, but hadn’t gotten around to yet.

But apparently, EMI and UMG aren’t too keen on the whole P2P thing. Neither label’s music will be available through P2P: Instead the music will come directly from Qtrax’s servers.

Which I’m sure won’t tax them at all. (Then again, the service may not have enough users for the load to be an issue.)

Would-Be Free Music Service Signs EMI; Two More Majors To Go [Silicon Alley Insider]