What, Exactly, Is a Spiral Frog?

Spiralfrog is a flailing, privately owned company offering free, ad-laden music downloads. I say “flailing” because these guys are obviously not going to succeed. Before you go clicking their link expecting to download some cool tunes, let me fill you in on a few of the “downs” to this download deal. Two sources provide the background information here.

First, thanks to Marshall Kilpatrick over at Read/Write Web, we learn the following:

“The SpiralFrog model is awful. Users get free downloads of DRM laden songs that they can listen to in Windows Media Player, but they have to periodically answer survey questions and view ads in order to for the songs to continue playing. The site itself looks like one big ad with music appended to it.”

Joeseph Weisenthal at paidContent.org goes on to quote their future strategy:

“Execute marketing campaign in the United States aimed at 13-34 year olds, through one or more of the following approaches: hire gorilla (sic) marketing firms for unconventional promotions; consumer targeted press releases; advertising on some of the youth community sites; or hiring ‘bloggers’ to attract attention to us on the internet.”

So, they think a 34 year-old father struggling to support his family has the same desires as a 13 year old girl? They make no distinctions, so who’s to say? Needless to say, I agree with Marshall’s assessment that the next step will be an all-out, and very annoying, media blitz. Very “gorilla“, indeed.

And what’s up with requiring Windows Media Player 11 just to view the site? I don’t have it, and I don’t want it. It’s just got too much Micro$oft DRM attached to it for my tastes. Plus, the only player that these downloads will play on is Media Player! Geez! Talk about trying to lock you in… but then again, that’s the Microstuff’s way. (To my way of thinking, all these restrictions on the download replaces the “free” with “as long as you do it our way, on our player, or else..” Free should mean, free to do with it whatever I want, as long as it’s legal.)

A Better Way To Go

For a better alternative, look to RCRD LBL. It’s the same idea, ad-supported free music downloads. But definitely NOT the same implementation. According to the RCRD LBL FAQ these tunes are playable in several players. There is no DRM at all. Formats for most popular music files are supported including the old standard (and my favorite), MP3. You are allowed to copy the files onto your portable devices. You are allowed to make mix-cds to share with your friends. You are allowed to do just about anything that you don’t make a profit on. You can even install a widget on your own website so that your visitors can play the tunes while they’re there.

Now that’s free downloads. I might even put up with a couple of ads along the way. After all, somebody does have to pay the artists.

I am Jon, and I love music, especially when it’s a free download.