Of all the developments in the digital music industry, the potential of legalised peer-to-peer systems is most intriguing. Imagine a service that allows you access to all the music on computers connect to a network (sound familiar) but instead of ripping tracks for your own collection you can play tham five times amid invitations to upgrade to a higher quality version or in some cases have the track for free and instead be invited to buy tickets/DVD etc.

That the basic promise of Snocap to both users and the labels, in other words the best of both worlds. The technology required would make the remainder of my hair curl but I have to admit that it sounds almost ideal. Musicians get to put stuff out there on their terms, users discover music a plenty and everyone gets paid (if that’s what they want). Better still, it would settle for once and all the issue of whether P2P users really do use it to sample or simply to fill their musical boots for nada.

The New York Times (reg required) has a long article with an excellent breakdown of the system and words with Mr Fanning. Snocap and iMesh are the main games in town at the moment with Grokster and Mashboxx likely to be first out on the market (both own by Mashboxx and powered by Snocap). Snocap now has all the major labels and a number of indies on board.