A measure of the new legitimacy of music downloading is the race that digital music companies are in to secure licensing agreements with major record labels. Today, Listen.com, a San Francisco-based online music company that distributes the Rhapsody digital music subscription service, reported it has licensed the rights to the music catalog of the Universal Music Group, a division of Vivendi Universal. Listen.com says that with the announcement, Rhapsody becomes the only online music service with licenses to offer the digital catalogs of all five major record labels.
Two weeks ago, digital music provider FullAudio Corp. reported that it had licensed the rights to the music of four major labels.
"Universal Music Group is committed to making our music available to a variety of legitimate online services, giving consumers broad access to our roster of talented artists," said Larry Kenswil, president, Universal Music Group eLabs. "Rhapsody is a great outlet for our music as the service balances consumers` passion for digital music while respecting the rights of artists."
Rhapsody says it offers more than 175,000 music tracks. Besides Universal, it has agreements with BMG, EMI Recorded Music, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group. The company has also licensed music from more than 50 independent labels. It distributes the music through Listen.com, as well as Music.lycos.com, Speakeasy.net, Jambase.com, Downbeat.com and Naxousa.com.