Free music service signs up with Universal

An upcoming service dubbed SpiralFrog that promises free music downloads has inked an agreement with Universal, the world's top record company. SpiralFrog intends to open to the public in December and to tie the knot with other record companies in the meantime. Other labels including EMI and the Warner Music Group are already in talks with the company, and SpiralFrog's Chief Marketing Officer Lance Ford says they are "keen on discussions" (although, he adds, those discussions are "complicated.")

Where Apple's iTunes Music Store charges the perennial $0.99 per song and other services offer subscriptions, SpiralFrog plans to give out music for free and rely on advertising to support itself. Songs will be available in the Windows Media format, although neither Reuters nor SpiralFrog says whether they will include Digital Rights Management protection. Napster already allows users to listen to music for free on its website, but record industry execs told Reuters it remains to be seen whether SpiralFrog's free-to-download model will turn out to be profitable.

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