Frank Kermode
Some thoughts on mobile viewing


My first thought when hearing of SpiralFrog? Same as Publishing 2.0:

You’ve got to pity the poor advertiser faced with figuring out how to allocate ad dollars across all these new media.

But I was also excited. Anything that appears to break the ridiculous status quo of the music industry is bound to set expectations going. However ... questions certainly remain.

BBC News reported:

'Vivendi Universal, the world's biggest music group, has signed a deal to make its music catalogue available on a free legal downloads service. Under the agreement, Spiralfrog will offer Universal's songs online in the US and Canada. New York-based Spiralfrog will launch its service in December and make its money by carrying adverts on the site. Spiralfrog aims to take on market leader Apple's iTunes service, which charges 99 cents per song in the US.'


The downloads could be played on the PC or transferred to a portable device, though notably not Apple Computer's iPod.

(The FT also has a piece.)

Nice to see Apple, iPod and iTunes under pressure, and it was easy to take Universal's move as heralding more of 'content … at no cost'. But there's cost and cost, and this does appear to cost — in DRM:

Spiral Frog will offer a desktop downloader for Windows Media Files (no iPods!) that can be listened to on one PC and two portable devices. Here’s the kicker - you must log in to the Spiral Frog service at least once per month, and see their ads, or your files will stop playing! The details aren’t fully set in stone, but it will be something like that. There will be links to third party sites of the record labels’ choosing if you’d like to buy your freedom to at least skip the ads. TechCrunch

I'm also wondering how SpiralFrog will deal with payment to artists, but more than anything else I can only second what TechCrunch says: 'It will be an exciting day if the major labels come up with something truly more compelling than piracy on one hand or coercion on the other - but I don’t think this is it'.

Technorati tags: , ,