SpiralFrog, Universal to Offer Free Music Downloads

SpiralFrog, a new advertisement-driven music download service expected to go live in late 2006, on Tuesday said Vivendi’s Universal Music Group has agreed to make its catalog of music available for free download in the United States and Canada via the upcoming online store, Reuters reports.

SpiralFrog’s launch will be the latest attempt by companies to rival Apple Computer’s U.S. market-leading iTunes Music Store, which—along with the company’s iPod digital music player—revolutionized the music download and traditional recording industries.

SpiralFrog plans to offer to its customers content from popular artists free of charge, according to Reuters, and it expects to derive revenue from the advertisers the site draws. Content providers like Universal will also share portions of that revenue, Reuters reports.

Robin Ken, SpiralFrog chief executive, said in a statement, “Offering young consumers an easy-to-use alternative to pirated music sites will be compelling,” according to Reuters.

The firm’s idea is that instead of doling out cash for music, its users will “pay” for the content by taking in targeted advertisements while obtaining songs, Reuters reports.

In related news, AOL announced on Tuesday that it had made a number of enhancements to its AOL Music Now download service, including a plan under which its users can pay $9.99 a month for unlimited music and video downloads.

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