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Free music site SpiralFrog makes debut

A company that many expected never to make it to launch has opened up offering 770,000 songs.

Free-music site SpiralFrog made its long-awaited debut on Sunday evening, defying critics who said the struggling company would never get off the ground.

The ad-supported music store opened with more than 770,000 songs and 3,500 music videos from numerous independent labels and Universal Music Group, the largest of the top four record companies.

When the company announced plans in August 2006 to offer ad-supported music free of charge to users media pundits called it an iTunes killer. But in December, New York-based SpiralFrog suffered an executive shakeup, burned through most of its cash and has since acknowledged selling secured notes, which are essentially loans, to fund operations.

The company is banking on revenues generated from ad sales to help cure its financial ills, said founder Joe Mohen. The idea behind the company was to offer a legal alternative to illegal file sharing.

But can SpiralFrog overcome a handicapped music offering?

SpiralFrog's music library was expected by critics to be hamstrung by a relatively small music library. A quick run through of the site on Sunday showed that SpiralFrog offered eight of the top 10 best-selling songs of the week, according to Billboard.

Universal owns 25 percent of the global music market, so SpiralFrog is not without some firepower behind it.

Songs can be downloaded to any portable device that is compatible with Windows digital rights management. Each user is allowed to transfer their music to two different devices.

Users must renew their monthly memberships every 30 days to continue hearing SpiralFrog's music files, which is typical for subscriber services like Yahoo or Napster.