Qtrax, an online file-sharing service, was introduced
yesterday to great fanfare. The group issued a press release saying it had signed a deal with major record labels that would allow customers to trade music online for free. The peer-to-peer network said it would offset the costs of free file-trading with advertising. The world celebrated the innovative idea.
That was, however, until record labels came forward saying they had no such deal with Qtrax. In a comment posted
on a DigitalJournal.com article yesterday, it was revealed Warner Music denied having any deal with Qtrax, saying it "has not authorized the use of our content on Qtrax's recently announced service." Universal Music Group and EMI Group PLC also said they had no licensing agreement with Qtrax. Other labels remained silent or had no response to the media and Qtrax fell silent with no further announcements posted on their website
But in addition to problems with record labels, Qtrax is also now facing protests
from artists such as Prince, Van Morrison and the Black Crowes. Web Sheriff, a company representing these artists, contacted Qtrax and said it can’t release their music, photographs or other intellectual property until it gets full approval from the artists.
John Giacobbi, Web Sheriff's president, said in an e-mail to Cnet.com:
"Whilst Qtrax is an interesting model, many major label and indie artists will not be happy about their music being given away free (to consumers) in return for a currently opaque return from advertising revenues,"
British-based Web Sheriff said even if music labels give approval to Qtrax, the company will still have to get final permission from artists before it makes their songs available for download.
The media and customers worldwide are waiting for Qtrax to respond to the situation to clearly explain what happened with its press release and why there are discrepancies.
According to the LA Times
, Qtrax Chief Executive Allan Klepfisz, said labels are now overreacting. "We got nods to go ahead with the service Friday night," Klepfisz said. "There's been a misunderstanding," he told the LA Times in a phone interview. Klepfisz believed his company was close enough to a deal to proceed with an announcement, but since this issue has created so many problems, the company now says it will delay the service until contracts are worked out.
I had a chance to try out the Qtrax player, which is available for download here
. It looks just like any other desktop music player; it requires a registration, but it takes a long time to activate the membership. It hasn’t yet sent my activation for me to begin downloading music collections (and I doubt it will now that the service has been delayed).
I could browse the site, and I see plenty of major artists such as Alicia Keys, Wyclef Jean, Shakira, Foo Fighters, and other major artists. Qtrax music player shows about nine million tracks in its music player and allows registered members to click on download links. Because of the increased interest in the site, it's currently very slow.
In my opinion, it's going to be quite a job for Qtrax to jump over so many hurdles, as I don’t think the music labels or the artists will make it easy for them. Qtrax should have sorted this out before making a big announcement.