SpiralFrog Signs EMI for Free Music

Plainly, some folks in the record biz think if they kiss this particular frog, it might just turn into Prince Charming. Not-yet-launched online music service SpiralFrog announced today that one of the world’s largest music distributors, EMI Music Publishing, will make its music catalog available for free, legal download via SpiralFrog’s forthcoming ad-supported music service. The news follows last week’s announcement that SpiralFrog had landed the catalog of another major label, Vivendi Universal.

“We are very pleased to help launch SpiralFrog,” said Roger Faxon, Co-CEO of EMI Music Publishing, in a statement. “It is a very exciting concept which fuses advertising with music downloads and other services to recapture consumer demand which has been hijacked by online piracy. Anytime we can create a new revenue stream for our songwriters and combat online piracy, you will see EMI Music Publishing leading the charge.”

The deal also includes rights to search and display the lyrics of EMI’s Anglo-American catalog.

Although SpiralFrog hasn’t launched yet, the basic idea is that tracks will be available for free download via an add-supported service. However, “free” doesn’t mean “unprotected:” downloads from SpiralFrog will carry antipiracy restictions using Windows Media DRM: users will not be able to share, trade, upload, and burn tracks to CDs willy-nilly they way they might with unprotected audio. Still, they’ll be able to get their hands on DRM-protected tracks without paying a penny, which may be a compelling proposition to SpiralFrog’s 13 to 34 year-old music-loving demographic. SpiralFrog is due to launch “later” in 2006.

EMI’s catalog includes high-profile artists such as Sting, Jay-Z, Arctic Monkeys, Alicia Keys, Kanye West, and Eminiem, as well as some of the most-recognized songs in modern history, such as “New York, New York” and “Singin’ in the Rain.

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