Delivering entertainment for free — paid for by occasional ads for cars and toothpaste — has worked pretty well for TV and radio all these years. So why not use the same model for music that gets delivered over the Internet? That’s the idea behind SpiralFrog, a new service that launched in Canada and the United States earlier this month. It’s one of a number of services that are trying to make a business out of giving away ad-supported music.
With Spiral Frog, users must watch a video advertisement or take a survey while a song is downloading. Two-thirds of the income from those ads is then passed on to record companies and others who hold the licensing rights to the music. Spiral Frog founder Joe Mohen, a former U.S. software industry executive, says that while the idea seems simple enough, the reality of putting together such a service has been “the most complex project I’ve ever undertaken.”
The company has been around for almost five years, but only opened to the public a couple of weeks ago, in part because the technical issues involved were so complex. The service was originally scheduled to launch last year. SpiralFrog has also undergone a certain amount of executive turmoil. Several senior executives left the company abruptly in January, including CEO Robin Kent, the former chairman and CEO of ad agency Universal McCann.