EMI Music is making its catalogue of recordings available using what it describes as the world's first advertising-supported, legal peer-to-peer music distribution service.
EMI said that users on the Qtrax service will be able to download high-quality, high-fidelity digital music files in the proprietary .mpq file format.
Those using the free service will be served ads and have a limited number of times they can play each file, while a premium ad-free version will charge a monthly fee with unlimited plays.
"The two-tiered business model is intended to attract a broad base of consumers to try out the service, and then graduate those consumers to purchase music permanently or subscribe," said EMI in a statement.
Those on the free service will be offered the chance to purchase tracks, while subscribers will be able to play the content on Windows Media-compatible portable devices.
The Qtrax service is expected to enter a beta phase later this year in the US.
"Qtrax will ensure that artists are getting paid when their songs are accessed in a P2P environment," said Allan Klepfisz, president of BTC, parent company of Qtrax maker LTDnetwork.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
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