This time last year, free and legal P2P music service Qtrax launched to what our UK editor Robert Andrews called “a blaze of questions” — and without the expected deals with major record labels or functioning software. The service reached deals with EMI, Universal Music Group and Sony (NYSE: SNE) Music Entertainment by December. Now, with the signing of Warner Music Group (NYSE: WMG), Qtrax says it’s ready for a full do-over. CEO Allan Klepfisz told AP: “We had a somewhat embarrassing launch. Now, we clearly do want to make a lot of noise.”
The advertising-supported service works like this: users can download songs to a PC and move them to a portable device, but must sync the devices once a month. DRM prevents copying — it’s based on Windows Media Player 11 and the .NET framework — but also allows for tracking the number of plays and paying artists and labels based on that. Ads will be on the web, but not in songs.
About 300,000 users have been participating in the beta, according to Qtrax. The service isn’t iPod compatible but the company says it should work on a large range of cellphones and players. One of the biggest complaints about subscription music is the need to sync. One of the biggest questions here: will free overcome that dislike?