Spiral Frog

The New York-based online music site, SpiralFrog is continuing to grow its catalog of freely downloadable songs. SpiralFrog describes itself as “a Web-based advertising-supported music experience that combines music discovery tools with free and legal downloads of audio and video content.”

Music Row’s own Frances Preston (see my earlier blog regarding her recent award) sits on SpiralFrog’s Board of Directors.

In the past several months alone, SpiralFrog has inked deals with the likes of Universal Music Publishing (8/30/07) and more recently INgrooves, a subsidiary of Isolation Network, Inc. (9/12/07), a digital media distribution and publishing company.

The aggressive expansion gives SpiralFrog subscribers free access to approximately 900,000 songs and videos. Although free, the music has severe limitations, namely, it cannot be played on either the iPod or the Zune, cannot be played on an Apple computer, cannot be burned to a CD, and can only be transferred to up to two of the Windows DRM-approved devices. Finally, NO MP3 format!

This business model proves once again that many executives in the fledgling online music industry do not understand how the consumer wants to use their music. The music must be unfettered! The average consumer is more than happy, in my humble opinion, to pay a fair price (no, not 99 cents Apple!) to purchase and download a song provided that it is not restricted in any way.

While I’m on the subject of restrictions, I might point out that music downloaded to iTunes often falls into this category. The popular software from Apples is quirky, buggy and bloated. Again, if I purchase music, I want it unfettered. I don’t want to be locked in to a really bad piece of programming such as iTunes.

Until a company finds a business model that really provides such unfettered access, they will not succeed. The closest solution I’ve found so far is eMusic.com. All music downloaded from eMusic is MP3 and DRM-free. Of course, because of its business model, eMusic is unable to ink licensing arrangements with most major distributors.

I’d really like your comments and opinions on ths issue.

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