March 4, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Qtrax, The ‘Free and Legal Music Downloads’ Service, Is Back

Qtrax free and legal music downloads

Surprise, surprise: Qtrax, the free on-demand music service that made big waves in 2008 with its failed attempt to launch a free music service with music from all four major labels, is back, and you can download it today.

A new Microsoft Silverlight version of Qtrax, available at a hidden URL that’s currently making the rounds, lets music fans download as much free music as they can handle from a large catalog of music from three of the four major labels — EMI, Sony Music, and Universal Music Group. All you have to do in return is view a few ads within the Windows desktop app.

Update: Qtrax told us it is launching in 30 countries; Billboard reports that the U.S. may not be among them. The test version is accessible from the U.S. Qtrax spokeswoman Shamin Abas told that those three major labels have each inked deals with Qtrax to allow their music to be downloaded by Qtrax users for free. We have contacted EMI, Universal Music Group, and Sony Music to confirm that they had signed deals with Qtrax, but our testing backsup what Abas told us: that hundreds of thousands of major label tracks have already been uploaded into the system, and Qtrax is currently uploading millions more in preparation for its official launch next week.

EMI spokesman Dylan Jones confirmed the deal to, stating, “EMI Music recently completed a short term agreement with Qtrax to enable them to distribute a selection of EMI content as ad-supported streams and conditional downloads.”

Qtrax's free music downloads are wrapped in Microsoft WMA DRM, as shown here by the "Yes" in the Protected field.

This means that so long as you don’t mind playing your downloaded music within the Qtrax app, there’s a massive amount of music there, all free for the downloading. The app saves music as DRM-ed WMA files, which are playable within Qtrax but not in other applications — not even in Microsoft’s own Windows Media Player. They also won’t play on any portable devices and, crucially, cannot be successfully shared on file-sharing networks.

Even without the threat of P2P, Qtrax faces challenges. Ad-supported music has been a notoriously tough nut to crack, as services like the Warner Music Group-funded imeem demonstrated all too clearly. Qtrax, too, had its share of travails back in ‘08, when it failed to secure music distribution licenses. It remains to be seen whether the company can sell enough ads to support free music downloads — and in this beta version at least, Qtrax’s ads aren’t too obtrusive.

Downloading some Johnny Cash on Qtrax

Downloading some Johnny Cash on Qtrax

After testing this new version of Qtrax, we can confirm that it really works, offering a large catalog with music from EMI, Sony Music and Universal Music Group for free download, but not music from the notoriously ad-supported-music-shy Warner Music Group.

We didn’t encounter any glitches with playback, browsing, or other commonly-accessed features. Each band page, regardless of whether Qtrax has free downloads for it, includes links out to YouTube videos, Ticketmaster ticket searches, Amazon purchase links, and a Wikipedia link, in addition to photos and bios within the Qtrax app itself.

According to Abas, talks with Warner are “going well,” but the deals with EMI, Sony and Universal are global in nature, and the above link is already live in 30 countries. Qtrax’s “Free and Legal Music Downloads” service is scheduled to go live on next week.

  • Spam Four Dinner

    What a joke, they have fake launched how many times now. Obviously you don’t know the history of this company. Try this link it might help you fully understand what this company is up to and I promise it isn’t a launch.

    Ask yourself why is the url hidden and why no press release, you fell for it hook line and sucker. hahaha

  • Eagelsclaw

    “Spam Four Dinner” You are an idiot who can’t see the forest for the trees. Go QTRAX Go BLLN. I downloaded 75 songs in under 20 minutes and it was free and legal. Playback quality is top notch.

  • gcerny

    Really? I am not sure if I can spend time on this one again.

  • Contrabalance


  • Isaiah

    young budda

  • Isaiah

    dis go harder den a mutha fuckaaa

  • rajesh pradhan


  • Bryan

    I’ve had Qtrax for over 12 months now with no problems whatsoever. I have legally downloaded lots of tracks, created my library and play lists and the playback quality is faultless. I don’t know what all the fuss is about, so long as it’s legal I’ll continue to use it. I just cannot understand the detractors.