SpiralFrog free music site shuts down

SpiralFrog takes a long walk off a short plank, leaving free music downloads to the pirates

SpiralFrog is the latest victim of the slump in advertising, closing its ad-supported free music download service less than three years after it launched, reports Cnet.

SpiralFrog offered free Windows Media-format music files to download permanently, linked to users watching online ads.

The site was pulled yesterday with Cnet quoting sources close to failed company saying that it was unable to repay $9 million (£6.2 million) in loans.

Pirates get the last yo ho ho?

Robin Kent, SpiralFrog's Chief Executive Officer at the time of its launch in 2006, touted the service as alternative to illegal file sharing.

"We're targeting the pirate sites," said Kent. "There's a market for those who wish to pay for music and one for those who don't. The don't pay market is huge and it's this we're going after."

Unfortunately, it missed. SpiralFrog never managed to ink distribution deals with Warner Music or Sony Entertainment, meaning its library was small compared with more established rivals.

SpiralFrog's model also required DRM, just as Amazon and (more recently) iTunes moved to DRM-free downloads, and the service struggled to attract a large user base.

There is no indication yet whether SpiralFrog's customers will continue to be able to play downloaded files, but the expectation has to be that their rights will expire with the company, and that files will become unplayable within a month.

Via Cnet.