back to article Peter Gabriel takes sledgehammer to music downloads (again)

Serial internet investor and musician Peter Gabriel today took the wraps off We7, a free at the point of use music download service where tracks are paid for by 10-second adverts spliced to their beginning. The tracks will be MP3-encoded, and unencumbered by DRM, the firm said. A representative told The Register that the files …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Conflict of interest

    Can anyone else see a Berger King adver being taged onto a Justin Timberlate song just to spite McDonalds?

  2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    What quality?

    Is there any reason in these days of cheap hard drives and other wonders why *any* music is sold compressed? Other than to keep the RIAA happy of course...

    This old fogey would *love* to buy an awful lot of back catalogue but I'm damned if I'll do it in a compressed form for a price approaching or exceeding that of a CD.

    Sell the stuff uncompressed and let the user compress for convenience in the flavour of their choice - ogg, mp2/3, aac, or even wma.


    p.s. encrypt these modern beat combos as much as you like :-)

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    I object !

    "mainstream casual music consumers" are by no means the least likely to object to ads. I am among the most casual of music consumers : since the RIAA has explained that everybody is a thief, I have no longer listened to any music I do not already have, unless by accident.

    Well even so, I absolutely refuse to have what time I have left for music spliced up to leave 10% of it to an ad. For Heaven's sake, I see ads on TV and on billboards all day, hear them on the radio when I tune in to the news, some games are hitching a ride onto the ad bandwagon (without even lowering the price of the games), and now you want to put ads in my music as well ?

    When will this stop ? When we get ad space on coffins ?

    ENOUGH ALREADY ! Leave the ads to the TV, billboards, magazines and radio, they're encroaching enough as is.


  4. A J Stiles

    DRM-free and now advert-free

    ..... and nobody would have the "audacity" to go around removing the adverts from these DRM-free tracks to create advert-free, DRM-free tracks, now, would they?

  5. Kevin Hall

    Do they know what they're doing?

    Hang on a sec: "The tracks will be MP3-encoded, and unencumbered by DRM...saying "three, four or five" listens will be needed."

    Without DRM, how do you do this? As an MP3 the first thing you'd do is stick it into any one of a million MP3 editors and delete the advert. The whole business model sounds like bollocks. I'll stick to buying CDs thanks, without the adverts/DRM/crap sound quality/illegality (take your pick).

  6. James Summerson

    Gabriel - Dynamic Firebrand?

    Considering the glacial progress of Mr Gabriel's own product and his ability to put the mockers on any Genesis back catalogue revamp - he managed to put back the release of the remixed Lamb Lies Down On Broadway ( ask yer dad, kids ) so it managed to miss every significant anniversary - I wonder how long it will take him to release his own songs in such a butchered format?

    This is a man who overdubs vocals onto the supposedly 'live' tracks as he is such a 'perfectionist' and he's punting this nonsense...?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Intimately connect

    This from the We7 site: "The platform, We7, uses free music downloads as a vehicle to communicate personalised advertising messages, allowing brands to intimately connect with consumers on- and offline"

    Oooh goody!

    Personalised advertising messages!

    Allowing brands to intimately connect with consumers*!

    I can't wait.

    No, hang on - I can wait, I have continued to wait and if necessary I'll wait some more. What's next? You can go see Peter Gabriel live, but if you're in the cheap seats you'll have to watch this special extended-length Cilit Bang! advert before you hear what's going on onstage?

    Bollocks to we7 and big hairy bollocks to advertising in general.

    * "intimately connect"!? If they want to cop a feel might I suggest the advertising execs pay for it like the rest of us have to. Now /there's/ a deal I might be willing to strike - "music for gropes". Any takers?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    US bombs flying overhead

    It seems that Sigue Sigue Sputnik were ahead of their time. Their debut album - released hundreds of years before the dawn of history, in the mid 1980s - had adverts between the tracks, including one for ID magazine, and another one for a non-existent computer game. This was round about the time that Peter Gabriel's solo career really took off, so perhaps he is subliminally remembering the idea from way back then.

  9. ShadowKnight

    And we're all complaining why?



    Did I miss a trick here? Finally someone, somewhere is trying to find a way AROUND DRM, and all we can do is kick them for doing so? it's a 10 second ADD! it's not like you can't get a plug-in to skip that every time you want to play it (for, say, winamp. And if there isn't one yet... there will be).

    This, folks, is innovation. Not that it's ever going to convince the big guns that being paid every time is a good idea, but it might sway the industry a bit.

    Everyone is up in arms about the price of music, and about the fact that the current DRM-encombered model is crap, so why can't we let we7 have a decent crack at it. If it's true what they say, that you'll get the full version after listening to a 10 second add a few times (minus the add), then I'm all for it.

    Finally a way to get that track that you can only get on an album of an artist that you don't really care for, but happens to have got that one good song (Rembrants anyone?) without shelling out for it, or wasting money on a single.

    Take a breath, and re-think about your rants. It's not perfect, but at least it's a step in the right direction. Give DRM-Free a chance!


  10. Robin

    Did anyone actually read the article completely?

    I think this is an excellent idea. (Which, of course, means that the record labels will immediately oppose it.)

    To the naysayers:

    The beauty of this is that you only need listen to the ad a few times to get a full, unspliced version. (How they are managing this without DRM, I agree is a mystery). It isn't like a record with ads in the tracks that you have to listen to forever.

    I'm a huge fan of downloadable music. But I can't think of a single reason why it should be 100% free. This service offers a choice, and a good one at that. If you have the coin to pony up $1 a song, then good on you -- buy till your heart's content. If you don't, the alternative is there. Listen to some adverts and get the music for free. For the starving student population, this will go over very well, should illegal music downloading ever truly go away.

    So long as the money gets back to the artist (which is, IMHO, the real issue with this sort of thing), I don't care whether it's paid up front in cash, or in time.

  11. Mike VandeVelde


    I imagine that each time you stream the mp3, they tack an ad on the front. If you stream it several times in a session, they stop tacking the ad on the front. Don't think that should require any kind of DRM system.

    Not a *bad* idea, but I don't see it taking the world by storm. Especially since the independent music market is superbly served already by But for those who don't want to pony up for a subscription, I suppose this is another option.

    I can see the big labels being interested in the tech though.

  12. Liam

    Look east laddy

    This sounds like it is meant more for countries that still lack purchase power for the likes of iTunes and all the rest. Clever idea if it is focused on specific cultural nuances. Then again, piracy is the norm in those.

    If this product is intended for western Europe and the US, then it will go down in flames. India, Africa, Eastern Europe, and parts of Asia that are wired, this is where there is hope for scraping out a very small profit. Then again, billions of pennies could add up.


  13. Andrew Abbass

    Open Indie Advertising-Free Canadian DRM system available!

    Check out for more information.

  14. Mark McGuire

    This is broken

    "I imagine that each time you stream the mp3, they tack an ad on the front. If you stream it several times in a session, they stop tacking the ad on the front. Don't think that should require any kind of DRM system."

    Just signed up and downloaded a song and I had the "audacity" to edit the ad ridden .mp3. If this is what they're going to be (they're still in beta so I don't know if they'll change) then they won't be around for long at all. People will get the songs make them advert free and make torrents of them. Business excecs will never learn, I give this guy credit for trying though.

  15. Dennis Parder

    Value of music?

    I'm sure the music industry values their product too much to give it away, as this cheapens the value of it even more - if they are being seen to give it away.

    The market is evolving into a singles market, and you can tell they want more than their 79p, which must be a huge factor in EMI going no DRM as they can charge 99p.

    Saying that, Peter's other company The Filter ( ) has been a really good application for me - and something I've used almost daily since it was launched.

  16. A J Stiles

    re: This is broken

    "People will get the songs make them advert free and make torrents of them."

    Yes, but ..... people *already* download songs with DRM, remove the DRM (not difficult, as long as there exists a single sound card anywhere in the world which doesn't do the DRM on-board, thus implying that unencrypted data must be travelling on the bus) and make torrents of them. What are you saying has changed?

    I think We7 are banking on the idea that many people simply can't be bothered with stripping out the adverts. Anyway, the artist still gets paid, whether or not anybody actually listens to the adverts.

  17. Mark McGuire

    Re: This is broken

    Yes people have always found ways around DRM or other copyright protections, however, the masses aren't always the geekiest and audacity is fairly easy to learn, highlight and cut. With the ad cutoff being obvious it's no problem to snip it out in under 30 seconds. I have never done a DRM removal, but I'm guessing it takes a lot longer than 30 seconds.

  18. Ian McNee

    I can't have it all right now for free with no ads or DRM and at CD-quality! It's SO unfair!!!

    Jeezus H Christ! What more do you want Mr Simon Harp-on-a-lot-ham (et al.)? So you don't want the musicians who create and perform the music we like to listen to to get paid?

    How would it be, Mr Harp-on-and-whine-a-lot, if your employer said that he was now able to download new employees that worked for nothing so you would have to do the same?

    Or how about instead you stop bitching and realise that this might actually be a small step on the road to artists being paid a fair wage, music consumers paying a fair price and less money going to the big media monopolies?

    Damn! I can't stand people who can only ever complain and see the negative. Sign up for this and let's see if we can make it work. It's not the imminent demise of Sony-Warner-EMI-Universal MegaloCorp Inc. but as other posters have said: it's a step in the right (non-DRM) direction.

  19. A J Stiles

    Re: This is broken

    I agree that it's easy to remove the advertisement after you've downloaded the song. But by the time you've downloaded it, the damage is already done: the artist has been paid by the advertiser, whether or not anyone even listens to the advertisement, let alone goes on to buy the product advertised.

    Ultimately, this whole advertising business model (where someone pays according the number of people exposed to their advertisement) is going to fail spectacularly, *precisely because* a growing proportion of the people who see advertisements will not then go on to buy the product. Advertising, as it becomes less and less effective, will push up overheads, and in turn the price of products (or reduce their quality); meaning that competitors who do not advertise their products will be able to offer better value for money.

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