Wrong Trax for the Record Industry

There was another abortion in the music industry this week.

QTrax, the startup that promised free music from the four major labels, and a number of indies launched without the music of the four major labels.

This is an advertiser supported project that had been at least a year in the making -- not unique -- just another whack at trying to offer music to the next generation for free.

Unfortunately, either QTrax or the labels scotched the much ballyhooed launch. We've heard that the ink wasn't dry on a number of the agreements. I don't know who launches a business based on four record labels without having the deal signed, sealed and delivered, but nothing surprises me.

I don't know who is to blame but the point is moot from my standpoint because as I have said for years now -- the next generation wants to own their own music (or steal it). They aren't necessarily drawn to QTrax's promo line of "free and legal". Believe me, few care if it is legal. And free? Well, music is always free to them.

In all fairness, Gen Y feels that they support the musicians and artists by paying very inflated prices for live performances. A point well taken.

Young consumers also argue that the record labels make most of the money when they do buy a tune and the artists aren't fairly compensated. This generation is concerned with the fate of artists and bands. And why would they like the record industry -- those ogres who are always trying to sue them for stealing music.

Well, whatever.

QTrax is on the wrong track. And so is the record business.

And when you get into bed with the labels you've got to expect things like -- reneging on agreements (if that's what happened in this case).

Music has been devalued -- like it or not.

Not the artistic part of music, the financial consideration. After all, when the most you'll pay for a legal download is 99 cents and with free downloading so prevalent, you can't argue that the value of music has increased.

This is fortunate or unfortunate depending on where you're viewing this issue, but it's not like we don't know some things that pertain to the future.

1. Ad supported models for free music will likely not take off.

2. Free downloading will not stop in our lifetime or perhaps the next.

3. Consumers still want to own their music either in the sense that they bought it or stole it. Renting hasn't worked on a number of platforms.

4. Consumers insist upon sharing music with others as part of social networking that their generation has advocated.

If this is true, good luck with QTrax -- even should the ink eventually dry on all those deals with the devil.

The consumer has spoken once again and as usual the music industry is not listening.

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