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SpiralFrog: iTunes Competitor or Illegal Download Killer?

Tired of paying 99 cents for a song? Don’t want to risk getting hit with a nasty RIAA lawsuit for illegal download activities? If you answered “yes” to either one of these, SpiralFrog has a deal for you. Starting in December, they’re going to start offering free music downloads from the archives of Universal Music Group. How can they do this? By forcing you to watch ads on their site. Hmmm…advertising supported music…wait a minute…don’t they call that “the radio?”

I got all excited when I bought my 40-Gig Creative Labs MP3 player and read about the Yahoo Music Unlimited service. I was excited until I learned that Yahoo’s DRM wasn’t supported on my player, that is. Nevertheless, I was ready to pay $5 or $10 per month to load that up with “rental” songs, but I’m not so sure I’m willing to do the same for this service. It’s unclear exactly how much time you’ll have to spend watching one ad after another on the SpiralFrog site. What is clear is that you’ll be forced to watch more ads every month to authenticate all your earlier downloads. Time is money and I’m not sure I’d be willing to spend more than 5 minutes per month taking in the ads for this service.

So what’s the answer to my question in the title? Will this take business away from iTunes or simply be a great way to discourage illegal file sharing? First of all, it looks like this won’t affect iTunes at all. According to this cnet report, SpiralFrog has no plans to support the iPod platform. Is that brilliant or incredibly stupid? After all, doesn’t the iPod represent something like 80% or so of the portable music player market?

Unfortunately, I also don’t see this program having any effect on illegal download activities. Let’s face it: Anyone who is still stealing music today, despite the risk of a nasty lawsuit, isn’t going to change their ways for this program.


Elisa Lucia

Unfortunately, I think you're right; people who are going to steal music are going to steal music.

What's scary is that it's only going to get easier.

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