The company recently cut a deal with Universal Music Group and hopes to include catalogs from other major labels in what might turn out to be a downloading freebie frenzy for music lovers.

But will the music truly be free? In a way, yes. Kind of.

Consumers won’t have to pay anything, but they will experience longer download times than iTunes or Napster. Downloading free music from SpiralFrog will take approximately 90 seconds, and will be accompanied by advertising appearing on monitors. The whole idea behind SpiralFrog is to offer music in exchange for watching advertisements.

Or, as SpiralFrog Chairman Joe Mohen told the Los Angeles Times: “The currency we’re using is time.”

Aside from watching advertisements, SpiralFrog tunes will differ slightly from songs purchased on other online services. Although consumers will be able to transfer the songs from computers to personal players, they will not be able to burn the songs to CD.

Also, like music purchased from online subscription services, consumers will have to maintain contact with SpiralFrog else the music stops playing. Even though music fans won’t actually have to maintain a subscription with SpiralFrog, they will have to log onto the Web site once a month and watch more advertisements. Otherwise, the music stops.

All music downloaded from SpiralFrog will be formatted in Microsoft‘s Windows Media digital rights management technology. And, while that format isn’t compatible with iPods, it will feel right at home on Microsoft’s upcoming personal player, Zune.

Universal’s deal with SpiralFrog reportedly calls for the label to receive an up-front payment followed by a share of advertising revenue. While Universal is the first major label to sign on with SpiralFrog, published reports indicate that similar proposals are being offered to Sony BMG, EMI and Warner Music Group.

Free music in exchange for watching a few ads. Could this represent a new pipeline for advertisers?

It’s no secret that teenagers and young adults love music and represent not only a large segment of the music-buying audience, but also a key audience demo that advertisers spend big bucks trying to reach. When you consider it in those terms, offering free tunes in exchange for watching ads appears to be more than just a no-brainer. It could end up being the proverbial match made in heaven.

“We believe SpiralFrog will deliver an audience we highly desire and need to reach,” said Oscar Feldenkreis, Vice Chairman, President and COO at Perry Ellis International. “Our audience is heavily into music and can be more easily reached on the Web. We see SpiralFrog as an ideal place for us to communicate and build lasting relationships with our core audience and give us unique new revenue opportunities.”

SpiralFrog will launch in beta form later this year.