Qtrax More Frustrating Than Q*bert

mariasci | April 10, 2009 1:00 am

You may or may not recall Qtrax, though given that our last post about it was in mid-2008, you probably don’t. So, a brief refresher: Conceived of as an ad-supported “legal P2P service” that would offer free downloads of major-label music, it launched in January 2008 at the MIDEM convention, but was forced to admit that it did not, in fact, have agreements with any of the major labels yet. But in true dotcom fashion, it threw a big party anyway! Then it sorta-kinda launched in June 2008, but not really. And now, a mere 14 months after their launch, the site actually has agreements with labels and publishers, and is ready to go. So what’s it like using Qtrax? Let me tell you about my 34-step, 45-minute long journey to play one song.

1. Open up the site in IE, because the downloader doesn’t work in Firefox. 2. Download and run the Qtrax Utility to verify that I have all the components needed for Qtrax to work. It tells me I need to install two updates. 3. Do upgrade No. 1. 4. Get a confusing message about how I need to update my DRM security status to run the DRM security status update. Ignore it. 5. Go to another webpage to do another security upgrade. Try and click the “upgrade” button. No dice. 6. Install an ActiveX control to allow me to use the webpage. 7. Click the upgrade button again. Hooray! 8. Download and run the Qtrax player installer, although Windows tells me it is from an unknown publisher. 9. Installer prompts me again to install the two security updates. I ignore it. 10. Notice that the Qtrax logo looks like the Quiznos logo as designed by someone with no knowledge of anti-aliasing:

11. Installer says it is going to take a few minutes. So far it has taken five, and given me confusing messages about uninstalling my previous version of Qtrax. It is also making my computer run at the speed of a 486. I go get a drink. 12. Come back with my drink. Still working. I go do some chores I’ve been putting off. 13. After 10 minutes, it’s installed. Hooray! I tell it to launch the program. 14. Wait five minutes. 15. License agreement pops up. Hooray! I agree to it. 16. Setup assistant tells me that Qtrax is a “highly customizable alternative to traditional desktop music players” and asks me what music I want to report. I tell it not to import anything, thanks. 17. Setup assistant asks me if I want to send Qtrax my information or sign up for the newsletter. I tell it no. 18. The program starts up! I have no idea what to do with it, but it gives me a bookmark to search for a new car on Yahoo!. The recession is over! 19. The player looks like iTunes, but with ads for Amazon and Ticketmaster. 20. Confused still, but I go to the Qtrax homepage in the Qtrax player. The Qtrax homepage tells me about the latest releases, so I click on a Marilyn Manson album. 21. It loads and prompts me to download the title track from the album, but not the whole album. I click “download.” It asks for my info, but I don’t have info, so I click on “sign up” or something. 22. I enter my preferred username, e-mail, and password twice, and agree to some terms or something again. It says to check my e-mail for verification. 23. I check my e-mail. Nothing. 24. Notice that I don’t have to verify my e-mail address just yet. Hooray! 25. Qtrax recommends for me: Coldplay, The Kicks, and Amy Winehouse. Since I have given them exactly no information about myself, I guess this is what they think everyone will like. 26. Notice there is a country version of “Fat Bottom Girls” on offer. Click on that toot sweet! 27. I try and download it, and Qtrax asks if I want to allow the website to add to my media list, which is confusing, because the website is Qtrax. Damn the torpedoes, I say, allow access to my media library! 28. I wait for it to download. I notice that my e-mail still hasn’t arrived. 29. I get a notification that “Songbird has blocked this site from viewing information about media in your library.” Huh? What’s Songbird? Is Songbird like Navi? Because I hate Navi. 30. Still waiting. 31. Here is what Qtrax’s FAQ has to say about DRM:

DRM allows Qtrax to insure that artists and record labels are properly compensated for their work. DRM means that you can play these music files on your computer or any Windows Mobile devices that you own. However, you cannot directly transfer these files to other users. At the same time, you are always free to share these files with other users via Qtrax by sending them a direct link to download the file. Agreements with the various music rights’ holders allow Qtrax to leverage the power of P2P in a way that is 100% legal.

This is confusing, because why would I care about leveraging anything? But sure, why not.

32. Still downloading. Has been five minutes. 33. Oh, but the song is in my library now! OK. 34. Double-click the song. One minute later, it begins playing.

Total time: 45 minutes.Result: A country cover of “Fat Bottom Girls.”Was it worth it? Not really, no.Overall impression? It’s like a shitty version of iTunes where you can download some random free songs. So maybe people will like that!

Qtrax [Qtrax]