Qtrax DRM, Michael Jackson and The Ebola Virus.


In 1983, Michael Jackson had a helluva year. He spent 15 weeks atop the charts with 3 #1 hits. Other songs making it to the top of the charts that year were “Come on Eileen” by the Dexy’s Midnight Runners, “Let’s Dance” by David Bowie, “Flashdance…What a Feeling” by Irene Cara, “Every Breath You Take” by The Police and “Maniac” by Michael Sembello (I hope you’re picturing Chris Farley in Tommy Boy every time you hear this song like I do). Man, those were the days. I can practically smell the hairspray. The era was equal parts mega-stars, one-hit wonders and MTV-fueled video bands. To download nearly all of these classic hits, just go to Qtrax and search by keyword “80s”. You’ll be knee deep in these hits, Pat Benetar and Lionel Richie before you know it.

The same year, but with much less hype, The Replacements released Hootenanny, Hüsker Dü was recording Zen Arcade, and The Clash were finishing up Combat Rock. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. That God for that.

What’s this got to do with anything besides the usual “available music on Qtrax” and some glorious self-promotion. Well, I’ll tell you. According to my extensive, web-based research, the same year (1983) a Japanese software engineer, Ryoichi Mori developed Software Service System (SSS) which is one of the earliest implementations of DRM (Digital Rights Management). Similar to the DRM today, SSS specialized hardware that controlled decryption and also enabled payments to be sent to the copyright holder. DRM is one of the hot-button issues in digital music. In a future world, all music may be stripped of DRM, but for now, it’s here and part of pretty much every music fans digital experience–like it or not. For most music sites, DRM encrypted music was there to limit the redistribution of copyright protected music. This is why you had such a difficult time uploading music from CDs from certain labels or sending that cool tune to a friend of yours that you just downloaded from iTunes. However, from a copyright protection issue, many “for pay” download services are removing DRM. This has created a buzz around the acronym and subsequesnt media hysteria has turned DRM into the digital equivalent of the Ebola virus.

So, if the future of music is free and legal, why do Qtrax songs come loaded with DRM? If you’re giving the music away, what’s the big deal? It’s pretty simple, really. We’re counting plays. That’s it. We’re not culling information (Facebook). We’re not infecting your computer with spyware (Limewire). And we’re certainly not giving you the Ebola virus (bat-bitten African monkies and mice). Naturally, we would love to have all of our music on Qtrax be DRM-free and able to be played on anyone’s portable device (that even includes you, Mr. iPod). In fact, we’re working hard with everyone to develop innovative software and systems to see that this becomes a reality in the near future. However, we pay  the artists and publishers based on the amount of plays each song receives. Our DRM is used to do one thing only, count plays. Our agreements with all the major labels and artists gives us rights to distribute their music freely, provided we share in the advertising revenues. We base these payments based on exactly which music is being downloaded and played via Qtrax. It’s a true reflection of the popularity of each song and the most fair way to compensate the artists and publishers of the music. This is why we need to count plays. We encourage users to download as much music as they want and tell their friends to do the same. Play it as much as you like on your computer, for now.  Soon, we’ll have the portability aspect nailed (you will hear something on this topic very soon) and all you’ll need to do is synch up your device once a month so we can, you guessed it, count plays. It’s quick and easy. The beauty is you get to keep the music. Just try and avoid getting bitten by a bat or crazed monkey in the Ebola River valley and you should be OK.


21 Responses to “Qtrax DRM, Michael Jackson and The Ebola Virus.”

  1. Just wondering… why are these articles being written as if one can do these things, currently? I can’t seem to access any of the options.

    • Ed–you are correct. This is not something I always think of as I’ve been using the beta for a while now. Our apologies, but you’re caught in between the beta version and 1.0 launch. I spoke to tech and we’re ironing out a couple of final kinks and hope to have it up very soon. As in, check back daily, soon.

  2. harrysdog Says:

    sounds awesome, but you don’t even seem to have the playing it on a computer bit nailed at the moment…e.g I cannot download the Qtrax player.

    Its a tad frustrating to read all this good new stuff about Qtrax. I read the give us a chance.. tell your friends etc… but its alway seems to be Coming Soon..

    Let us download and we can evaluate and spread the word

    • Harrysdog,
      I understand your frustration as well as anyone on the planet. Please, take this blog as a sign of how close we are…and of how close you are. I know, I know, you’ll believe it when you see it. Fair enough.

  3. Thanks Qtraxer… this isn’t an official blog, I gather, but are you the man in charge or pretty involved in the production? Thanks, and good luck. We look forward to it.

    • This actually is the official blog and even though I like to think I’m in charge, technically, I’m not. We may integrate this blog into the new version or in an update, but for now, we’ll have it live here. I guess you could say that this blog is sort of in between beta and launch too.

  4. Is this going to be a big launch when this happens or is it going to start as a grass roots type thing? Will portability be coming soon? I feel like people will be upset if it is not at least addressed on the site upon launch.

    • Qurious,
      Those are good questions. The launch will try and do both. We’ve built a decent grassroots following (a few hundred thousand beta subscribers helps) and certainly want organic fan growth. However, when it’s time (likely when we’ve ironed out more kinks and have worked out more details around portability) we’ll make a bigger media splash.

  5. willie j Says:

    Excellent posting. I’ve been following this product for years, and personally I don’t want to see it released until it’s as close to perfect as any newly released software can be. I’ve been there… do it right the first time and there will be no regrets. Thanks for the valuable insights.

  6. Can you comment on whether or not there are plans in place for a spin off of Qtrax shares to current BLLN share holders or anything else of interest that is related to those direct investors in BLLN? Thanks.

  7. I am really loking forward to canadian access.

  8. luckybleu Says:

    Getting back to the whole drm issue,I started getting my music on the original napster,back then I didn’t even consider it stealing.I use frostwire today and I know its stealing, and would love a legal alternative to get free music,but the labels brought their decline upon themselves for not realizing napster ‘s (and Qtrax) potential back in 2002.Millions and millions of people think similarly to me ,won’t pay, don’t pay ,refuse to pay.Whats good about the gutenella network is they also have the rare tracks and collaberations ,Like pearl jam playing at a high school in california ,sheryl crow coming out on stage with keith richards singing “gimmie shelter”This is the music I want,along with many others.Not be able to burn music to a C.D is not a big deal to me ,as long as I can put it on my mp3 player or cell, listen on the computer its all good.Qtrax has said they will provide access to rare tracks from the gutenella network,Will this feature be available in V1, and can you explain a little bit about how it will work? Will the web media history in the songbird player have anything to do with this? Thanks

    • Qtrax has always intended to provide rare and live tracks as part of it’s music library. I was wrong in thinking it would be over the gnutella network. It’ll likely be over the OpenX network that works best with the Songbird player. We’ll get to more on this very soon.

  9. morechocolate Says:

    i’m interested in what you think of my take…

    back in the day if i’d gone into the music store, picked up a big “surfin usa” l-p and walked out the door – next thing I know some guy in blue would be reading me my miranda rights. the internet x music has resulted in the confusion of right vs wrong that is without precedent. the numbers say stealing a digital “surfin usa” is okay – apparently digital and physical stealing are different.

    won’t Qtrax change the moral – and legal – issue?

    up to now public sentiment has sympathized with the thieves (e.g., the poor kids don’t have a choice), and rationalized illegal activity. that public sentiment has, in turn, restrained governments from enforcing copyright laws and the music companies from aggressively acting to protect their property and the artists. (talking general public sentiment here and its moral relativism – moral absolutists share neither the sentiment or the confusion behind it).

    once Qtrax launches and introduces a free and legal alternative to illegal, the argument for rationalizing illegal activity will disappear. public sentiment will shift, and will side with doing the right thing – and governments and the music companies will move more forcefully to protect copyright laws, property, and the artists.

    • Morechocolate (don’t mind if I do, thanks),
      This is the classic internet debats. Young people think that if it’s online it’s free. The sites are figuring out how to build revenue. The bands just want to rock .

  10. morechocolate Says:

    we all think online equates to free. but not when it comes to copyright laws – and the need to protect these laws is critical. people – young or old – need to understand and value that. i think when there is free+legal alternative it’s going to re-focus the issue and rightfully empower governments and labels.

    from chuck berry to jagger – they’re dual parts “just want to rock” and marketing geniuses. and the marketing part of them wants to be paid.

  11. speedy rush Says:

    Why is this blog site not automaticlly updating? What have I done wrong?

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