Browsing the AP headlines this morning I see Qtrax is coming out of cold storage with a fresh angle: 25 million free songs with a FairPlay work around. Sounds like they’ll be protecting the files while retaining the playability on iPod devices. Lest we forget the Achilles heel here… What Apple giveth, Apple can taketh away. Just look at all the jailbreaked iPhones out there. Qtrax may have their headlines for a couple of days – Good for a bump in curiosity traffic. But, the first update Apple issues to the iPods will most certainly be busting the playability of those trax… Qtrax had better have a compelling and strong value proposition to retain customers. The Mac beta of Qtrax will be available March 18 according to their site (which is slow as can be). [EDIT: It may not matter anyway... looks like someone at Qtrax was over-zealous and made some misleading claims about "who" and "how much".]
If you’ll recall, Qtrax was/is a P2P approach much like Napster was in its day. In a move to stay alive, avoid legal entanglements, etc they shuttered the doors and hunkered down to buy time. All the while they’ve been cutting deals with the labels with an interesting model (similar to SpiralFrog‘s): namely ad sponsored distribution of music files which are somehow playable on the iPod as something other than your house variety mp3.
I’m certain this isn’t what they want to hear… I love music and I’m positive somehwere in that 25 million large pile of digitized music I’ll find some new stuff I don’t already own… I can ignore ads with the best of them. They’ve gotta know this about us. Seems to me they’ll have to be very intrusive with their ad plays in order to pay the license fees their labels are going to demand. Doing the rough math… if they’ll owe .50 on each distributed track I will have to have earned Qtrax enough during my site visit to offset what they’re going to owe (not to mention enough for infrastructure, salaries and operating costs). That’s one helluva lot of ad sponsored clickstream.
I don’t see them living to see 2009 with this model.