Monday, January 28, 2008

Major Record Labels Move Tracks to Qtrax -- Hoping to Legitimize Illegal P2P

In yet another sign of the sobering reality facing the music industry, all four major record labels have agreed to license their tracks to Qtrax, a service that "scours pirate [P2P] networks for songs, then delivers them as downloads to the computers of fans willing to have ads play while they listen." As a result, given the P2P nature and breadth of music involved with such pirated content, Qtrax purportedly will "legitimize" the distribution of tens of millions of songs, thereby dwarfing the libraries available for purchase via Apple's iTunes and other music sites.

Although Qtrax promises a better user experience than that available to aficionados of pirated tracks, it is still difficult to understand why a significant number of those free riders who consume pirated music will choose to legalize their behavior by accepting advertising. Nonetheless, experimentation by the major labels is essential in an industry confronting such radical declines.