A few days ago, Savvy Frugality was excited to learn that the music companies had finally joined the 21st Century and a free, legal online service offering unlimited music downloads was on the way. Dubbed "QTrax", the Mozilla-based system using the Songbird music player and P2P client was to be available for download, and downloading music, on January 28th.

QTrax said it had reached a deal with major music companies to allow some 25 million songs to be downloaded through the service. However, at the 11th hour, before the program was even available for download, Warner Music Group announced it had not reached any deal with QTrax. Many other major music labels issued similar statements within a matter of hours.

Since then, I have been able to download the QTrax player, but the P2P client, the part of the program which would enable users all those free downloads QTrax promised, is disabled. Users can import their own music libraries and use the player for now.

The music industry has been suffering the past few years. With P2P clients like Limewire and BitTorrent allowing computer users to share their music files for free, record labels and recording artists have been missing out. I'm all for artists getting paid for their music, but the main problem is the music industry has failed to change with the times. When more people started listening to their music on computers and IPods, the music industry stuck to selling CDs, which were rapidly declining in popularity. Instead of offering download and subscription services to compete with P2P services, record companies started suing the people who were using these services. In other words, they sued their potential customers, creating further animosity.

Services like QTrax appear to be a great solution...if they can successfully get off the ground. Many television networks now offer much of their programing online for free, and make money from the advertising. Services like QTrax are trying a similar approach.

While QTrax is in talks with the record labels to get up and running, here are a few other online services which offer a free and legal means of listing to streaming music:

Deezer - Search and listen to songs online. If you like what you hear and want to download, you are referred to Amazon.com to buy the album. Deezer gets it. Deezer is based in France, so not all songs will play if you're based in the U.S.

Pandora Radio - It's half Internet radio, half streaming song player. You can search for the artists you like, and Pandora will play songs by that artist, although you don't get to listen to the exact song you want when you want it.

Songza - This is sort of like YouTube, only it plays songs. You can actually play a video of the song if it is available. Type in the name of an artists, song or album and Songza will find and play it for you. If you like what you hear, you can buy music through Songza at Amazon.

With each of these services, users can listen to the songs, but if they want to download they have to pay, which is the way it should be. These types of services prove that people can enjoy music for free (just like they do on the radio), and artists and record labels can still make money if someone wants to take the music with them.


  1. The Author // February 3, 2008 at 6:26 PM  

    We love Pandora in this house!

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