Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Free ad-supported online music service!

Published: 28 Aug 2006

CALIFORNIA - I just confirmed that the files offered by SpiralFrog, the much-ballyhooed (today, at least) free, ad-supported online music service, will offer WMA files wrapped in Microsoft's PlaysforSure DRM.
The service will launch with songs from Universal Music Group in December, according to early reports. PlaysforSure DRM was cracked quite recently, and it remains to be seen whether Microsoft will be able to shore up that vulnerability by then.

Regardless, out of the 194 news stories listed by Google News, not a single one of them mentions which format the service would use, or how it would be protected – a pretty big oversight in my opinion, considering how serious the 'competing formats' obstacle is in online music right now (especially for companies such as SpiralFrog, which distribute music that won't play on iPods).

I'm not patting myself on the back for mentioning this (well, maybe a little), but seriously… how can you talk about an online music store without including anything about which format it'll offer? I guess online music is online music, until you actually try to play it… although at that point, it's a little late to start thinking about formats and DRM.

Update: Rumor has it that another major label, EMI, is also in "advanced discussions" with SpiralFrog about distributing its catalog via the ad-supported music service as well.

Another Update: My former coworker Ina Fried over at did in fact mention the format and DRM issues associated with SpiralFrog in her article. I guess Google News isn't as bulletproof as I'd thought (searches for "SpiralFrog WMA" and "SpiralFrog PlaysforSure" returned no news results when I originally posted this item).

Posted by eliotvb


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