Eliot Van Buskirk wrote a somewhat surprising and positive commentary today over at Wired.com. The subject of his affection: Spiralfrog, the ad-based music download platform that officially launched today. Van Buskirk thinks that Spiralfrog is offering the fairest DRM solution yet:

"SpiralFrog does in fact make sense because digital rights management is so restrictive that any music it "protects" should be free to download."


That's a cute argument, but I tested Spiralfrog a week weeks back as well, and I'd have to disagree. Spiralfrog is fundamentally flawed because it's build on the assumption that you have to trick its customers. The site tries to get you to look at as many ads as possible while you download their tracks. It's called stickiness - and advertisers love it. Keep your readers or users as long as possible on your site, and there is a higher likelihood that they pay attention to ads, or so the logic goes.

Of course it also matters how you get your site sticky, and Spiralfrog resorts to cheap tricks. Users have to answer a captcha before they can download a track, an they can only download one track at a time. Download are pretty slow, causing you to spend a good 20 minutes before you get your whole album.

Finding music is also a nightmare. You actually have to browse through a long alphabetical list to find music videos you like. Browsing genres isn't possible at all. There is no social interaction - it's just stalling. It's a UI nightmare, and using it feels more like Rapidshare than iTunes.

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