We love we7!

Every once in a while, a website comes along that we have to simply take our hats off to, and give it the respect it fully deserves. In this case, we’ve been blown away by we7.com – which could mark the beginnings of a revolution in the online distribution of music.

The premise of the site is simple; to offer users access to safe, legal music downloads, and ensure that the creators of that music receive the royalties they are rightfully entitled to.

Where the site veers away from its spiritual companions (Apple’s iTunes and Napster spring to mind immediately), is in the adoption of an entirely fresh business model – if users want to download as many tracks as they want for free… yes, that’s right… for no monetary outlay – they can! So how is this generosity possible? And how can it possibly operate within the limits of the various international copyright laws?

The answer is so simple, that we rather wish we had come up with it first – but we didn’t… so fair play to we7!

To cut to the chase, users can download an unlimited amount of high-quality DRM free tracks (192 Kbps MP3s to those who are interested in such things, that will play on any device that supports this most common of formats). Here’s the rub; tracks are preceded by up to 30 seconds of advertising, which allows the artists involved to receive payment for their creativity. Users can also download ad-free tracks if they prefer, at rates which compare to Apple’s DRM-free offering – known as iTunes Plus – 99p per song in the UK for example… and again, the artists will get a cut of the spend.

Things get more interesting still with a timed countdown, which at present, will “unlock” the tracks that users have downloaded after 28 days, and remove the ads – they can then be downloaded again sans advertising in exchange for credits. What’s more is that we7 are currently offering users 20 credits free every 28 days from their sign-up date, so those downloading a small number of tracks won’t be paying anything at all! It is also possible to purchase credits on the site, and the advantage of so doing is that they cost a lot less if you were patient enough to wait a while after the initial download.

We think it’s an absolutely brilliant idea that deserves to do well – to our mind, this could be the solution that many have been looking for in terms of web-based music downloads; artists and users alike.

Presently, there is an enormous, and steadily-growing collection of material up for grabs, from artists that you’ve never heard of though to household names. The site was set up with the backing of former Genesis frontman, tech-evangelist and all-round good egg Peter Gabriel, and other than being conceptually bold, features some lovely functionality. Oh, and it doesn’t look too shabby either!

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