QTRAX: The second coming of P2P at midnight tonight

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This morning, I attended a press conference at MIDEM for the launch of QTRAX - the world's first legal peer-to-peer (P2P) download service.  It boasts an impressive 25-30 million legally licensed songs that will be made available free to the public tonight at midnight EST.  Making the announcement was President and CEO of QTRAX, Allan Klepfisz, backed by a panel including Brit songster James Blunt, and what seemed to be most of the Sugar Hill Gang (both of whom played the reception that followed).  The champagne was flowing and the mood was definately celebratory.

Th QTRAX model is fully ad-supported through various types of advertising and
sponsorship agreements with multi-nationals such as McDonalds and Nintendo, along with others. Apparently the ads are in the form of banners etc - no more obtrusive than what we already see everyday.

An undisclosed revenue-sharing model has been agreed to by all the major labels, the bigger indies, publishers, and artists. Though the divvying of the cash was left vague, and I imagine varies deal by deal, all the rights holders will get paid, and the public neededn't lay down a credit card, lifeblood, or anything else to get the tunes.

QTRAX files will be embedded with a new version of DRM which won't limit the number of plays or devices, but will enable the music service to collect stats on the number of plays for each track. The number of plays is the basis on which the rights holders get paid.  In order to keep their free and legally downloaded music files working, users will need to synch up once every 30-days. This synching will send usage info to QTRAX robots who will divvy up the cash; the monthly visits also make the advertisers happy (they are prodiving the dollars in this equation, afterall).

At this point, QTRAX isn't compatible with Macs or iPods, but they anticipate launch dates for these compatibilities of mid-March and mid-April, respectively. While CEO Klepfisz was self-admittedy "not too tech savvy," he made sure to get across these ideas to the standing-room ony crowd: the file quality and dependability will be far superior to limewire; the platform is driven by firefox; and that these facts, along with the user-friendly interface, speed and accessibility is what will drive users to find a new home at QTRAX.

When I asked Klepfisz how indie artists can get in on the deal, he assured me that all will be revealed on their site next week and that there will be a dedicated place where indie artists can cut their deal with the service, get their tracks on QTRAX, and wait for their McMoney to roll in. (where did the hamburglar go?)

I don't know about you, but I'm going to find me a PC and log in at midnight, EST to see what all the hype is about!


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