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Troubled Qtrax is back and licensing music

The company that had trouble paying bills and acquiring licensing rights the past three years has finally penned some deals. The service is expected to launch next week.

Greg Sandoval Former Staff writer
Greg Sandoval covers media and digital entertainment for CNET News. Based in New York, Sandoval is a former reporter for The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. E-mail Greg, or follow him on Twitter at @sandoCNET.
Greg Sandoval
2 min read

Qtrax, the music company that once sought to create a legal file-sharing music service, has finally struck several music licensing agreements and will launch next week, the company said today.

Details about the arrangements are scant, but apparently three of the top four labels have agreed to extend Qtrax's former music licenses for three months to allow the company time to try and raise money. Qtrax still owes some of the big labels money and must get caught up before the three-month period ends or lose the rights to the songs, according to one source.

A company representative told CNET that it will officially launch in 30 countries starting next week, including the United States. The music, which is available in beta at music.qtrax.com, will be free to use and ad-supported. The songs are mostly deep catalog and wrapped in digital rights management.

Ad-supported music sites have a dismal record for generating winning services. Companies such as SpiralFrog and Imeem went bust trying to make it work. Add to the list of hurdles that Qtrax faces is the company's history for just getting out the door in digital music.

Qtrax is most famous for throwing a huge party in Europe three years ago to celebrate the launch of its service, and the company's CEO once boasted that he had struck licensing deals with all the top labels, only to watch label execs deny that any such agreements with Qtrax existed.

Since then, Qtrax managers have generated a few headlines for promising to launch and failing to meet the self-imposed deadlines. The company's prospects of ever getting off the ground looked nonexistent after it started bouncing checks and getting sued by several of vendors, including Oracle, for failure to pay.

Try out Qtrax, but I recommend not getting too attached. The fact that Qtrax still doesn't have the funding to secure licensing deals for an extended period suggests money issues continue to plague the company.