Qtrax, the startup that planned to offer users free, legal P2P music, has taken another step toward giving users free music: It has signed on EMI to make its songs available for streaming or downloading. Earlier this year, it reached a similar deal with Universal Music Group, which means it has just two more to go: Sony BMG and Warner Music Group (WMG).
Of course, there’s a catch: Qtrax had originally planned to offer up the big labels’ tracks through a P2P service, which would theoretically mean that users were able to download a much wider variety of music than the stuff commonly available at digital stores like iTunes (AAPL). That’s because QTrax would offer tunes that were officially sanctioned by the majors, as well as “grey” music — stuff that the labels would likely approve, like live tracks, but hadn’t gotten around to yet.
But apparently, EMI and UMG aren’t too keen on the whole P2P thing. Neither label’s music will be available through P2P: Instead the music will come directly from Qtrax’s servers. Still, if QTrax can even pull this off — and figure out how to make the service pay for itself — it will be worth noting. EMI reached a similar deal last night with money-losing, hard-to-use music service SpiralFrog.