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The Next Generation of Digital Music?

Universal Music has signed a deal to make its entire catalogue available on SpiralFrog, a new music download service that offers ad-supported legal downloads of audio and video content from major and indie labels. Users of SpiralFrog, which launches in December, won’t pay a dime to download content from artists like Beck, the Roots, Giant Drag, U2, and more, since the site uses advertisers to pay for the content. The system works like this: while downloading music, users will be able to navigate through the site to look up concert information and additional information on the artists, with those page-clicks benefiting companies that have placed ads on each page. SpiralFrog then shares the revenues from those advertisers with the record labels.

“Our business model is based on sharing or income streams from that advertising with our content provider like Universal,” Robin Kent, CEO of SpiralFrog said in a statement. SpiralFrog will use digital rights management technology (DRM) to protect against piracy, asking users to come back to the site monthly to renew their license (for free) in order to keep their downloaded files intact. SpiralFrog is looking to take on iTunes, which asks users to pay $.99 per song. “Offering young consumers an easy-to-use alternative to pirated music sites will be compelling,” Kent said. Users will be able to export their music to all portable music devices with the exception, of course, of iPods.

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