Qtrax Set To Launch With EMI’s Catalog

EMI Music becomes the first major music company to make its catalog available to Qtrax, the world’s first ad-supported P2P service, but Qtrax has major hurdles to jump in order to survive

EMI Music and e-commerce software developer LTDnetwork Inc. announced that EMI is the first major music company to make its catalog of recordings available to what will be the world’s first advertising-supported, legal peer-to-peer music distribution service. The service, called Qtrax, was developed by LTDnetwork, and at launch, will provide fans with free, advertising-funded access to high-quality, high-fidelity digital music files, as well as the option to subscribe to a premium version of the service or to purchase individual music tracks.

Qtrax will offer two tiers of service: the first is a free, advertising-supported tier designed to work with and filter copyrighted content from existing peer-to-peer networks. The second tier is a premium subscription service which will require a monthly fee. The two-tiered business model is intended to attract a broad base of consumers to try out the service, and then graduate those consumers to purchase music permanently or subscribe, something that Real Networks launched earlier this year.

In the ad-supported, free tier, users will be able to search the network for specific tracks, and those tracks registered with Qtrax will be made available for download in Qtrax’s proprietary .mpq file format. Users will then be able to play the downloaded .mpq file in full-fidelity sound quality for a pre-defined number of times. Each time a consumer plays a track, the Qtrax player will also offer fans click-to-buy purchase options, as well as the opportunity to upgrade to a premium subscription service for a flat monthly fee.

The premium subscription service uses Microsoft’s Janus DRM technology, which allows consumers to pay a monthly fee for unlimited access to music in the Qtrax network. Subscribers will also have the ability to transfer content to Windows Media enabled portable devices for as long as the subscription stays active, but not the industry leading iPod players by Apple.

The service will also include consumer-friendly community-building and music discovery tools which enable fans to easily access to a vast selection of music and other content, all while generating revenues for artists and content owners.

“Working with Qtrax is just one way EMI is actively supporting emerging business models, technologies and platforms to deliver music to fans,” said David Munns, Chairman and CEO of EMI Music North America. “Of course, we think that any ad-supported model should be offered in a way that maintains, or even enhances the value of music, and we believe Qtrax does that by offering a good consumer experience and significant up-selling opportunities. Our collaboration with Qtrax will give us great consumer insight and help us gauge the boundaries between sampling and purchasing music. Ultimately, the feedback we get from Qtrax will help EMI be more responsive to consumer demand. The Qtrax service will also ensure that our artists are compensated for their works and that the value of their music and integrity of our content is protected.”

In addition, Qtrax will offer incentive programs that will allow fans to accrue points redeemable for additional plays for tracks acquired through the free service, or for discounts off a la carte purchases or subscription fees.

The Qtrax service is expected to enter a test phase later this year and will initially pilot the service in the United States. In preparation for the launch, EMI will immediately begin delivering and registering its content with Qtrax’s filtering system, powered by Audible Magic. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Future: Doesn’t work with the iPod. A proprietary format. A limited number of songs. P2P in theory, but not really. Qtrax sounds like a long-shot to us.

Author: FutureMusic

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