Three WhatCD Replacements Popped Up In Just One Week

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Last month, whatCD was shut down by anti-piracy police in France.  This week, there are already three replacements.  Is there any learning going on?

For those just tuning in, one of the largest Bittorrent trackers just got shut down.  Prior to its sudden death, WhatCD offered nearly 3 million torrents from roughly 900,000 artists.  Its user base was approaching 150,000.

Now, it’s a dead page.  But instead of everyone going away, the entire BitTorrent community has been creating replicas.  “Within a matter of days several new trackers appeared online,” Ernesto from Torrentfreak relayed.  “Some of these alternatives already have close to 200,000 torrents in their collection, and that’s just the start.

With astonishing speed, a least three have popped up, and they’re growing fast.  According to the Torrentfreak report, these are the different BitTorrent trackers filling the void:

  1. PTH (Pass the Headphones)
  2. Apollo (aka Xanax)

PTH (Pass the Headphones)

According to Torrentfreak, PTH has already reached its 200,000th tracker link.  That’s as big as OiNK at its peak, just prior to its shutdown in 2007.  “Pass The Headphones is a new music tracker that aims to fill the void left in the wake of shutting down,” the founders described.

At present, this is an entirely private network with massive security.  But invites have been circulating from this forum since November 27th.  Undoubtedly, there are other invites circulating among the torrenting community.

And it’s growing fast.  Torrentfreak says the community is being capped at 10,000, with most familiar with the secret passcode.  “Run by some familiar faces in the private tracker community, security is at the top of the list of priorities,” the site creators reiterated.

Apollo (Xanax)

Apollo, originally named Xanax, also seems to be springing up quickly.  And just like PTH, there’s a focus on security.  Currently, the site is soliciting applications here, with posted IRC channel hashtags.

“Applications are open! Apply now and join the community!” the site invites.


Catchy title, but this looks like a tightly-closed door.  Torrentfreak says the founders are being extremely careful about letting anyone in.

A visit to the site basically says as much.  “You’ve stumbled upon a door where your mind is the key. There are none who will lend you guidance; these trials are yours to conquer alone. Entering here will take more than mere logic and strategy, but the criteria are just as hidden as what they reveal.”

“This is a mirage.”

More whack-a-m0ling ahead?

Whether anti-piracy police are lurking around these replacements is unclear.  Ironically, many of them receive information about piracy upstarts from Digital Music News, and a few shutdowns have started with our reporting.

But DMN is also sharply critical of a non-stop whack-a-mole that never seems to skill the piracy hyrdra.  Indeed, a recent research report indicated that anti-piracy enforcement has had a negligible impact on music piracy.  Sure, the bigger hubs are shut down, but users are largely undeterred.

So what really kills piracy?  The answer, unsurprisingly, is low-priced streaming from players like Spotify.  Not because music fans feel guilty, but because it’s simply far more convenient to stream it for free.  Or, shockingly, pay $9.99 a month.

5 Responses

  1. Omgwana Kikbuti

    Spotify = Radio
    Files = Collection
    You do the math.

    • Kevin

      Not really… when you have on-demand (including offline syncing) of the entire world of music at your fingertips (Spotify), that beats managing an offline, self-maintained library/collection.

      Then there are things like iTunes that combined the worst of all worlds… self-maintained AND purchased collection…

      The article is spot-on in the last bit… Spotify killed music piracy for me, simply for the sheer convenience of it. Software devs, the movie industry, etc. should all learn from this model – make the entry price low enough, and the ease of use high enough, and virtually no one will bother to pirate anymore! Wasted effort trying to stop people that would never have paid for your existing service model anyway is a losing battle that hurts virtually no one but the enforcer themselves (and those paying members that eat the cost of such futility)

      • CLAYTON

        This is the right answer. Spotify is just too easy and too cheap to ignore if you like a large variety of music and like to listen in a number of places.

        In college and during the early part of my adult life, I had accumulated almost a TB of music. It started as crappy .mp3s off Napster but eventually as my listening equipment (and ear) improved, I moved to exclusively .flac. I was snagging quite a few off torrent sites, but also buying and ripping albums for the bands I really appreciated.

        Even with a home server and remote access, it was still cumbersome to take music on the go (especially with poor .flac support and relatively small storage capacity on early devices). With Spotify, I pay $10 a month and can stream music on the go to any of my devices, I can download playlists for offline listening, I can quickly discover new music, I can share my playlists with friends… and it’s all quick and effortless.

        When I’m at home and really want to appreciate, say, Damn the Torpedoes in all it’s glory, I pull up the .flac on the audiophile equipment. But for “Here Comes My Girl” at work via a Bluetooth speaker or via headphones on the airplane, it’s Spotify all the way.

    • Caracono

      Is not the same kind of community, what made me love