Subscription Music Service Provider Signs First Online Distributor - InformationWeek

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Subscription Music Service Provider Signs First Online Distributor

Less than a month after it obtained rights to distribute EMI Recorded Music's catalog of licensed content over the Web, entertainment subscription startup Streamwaves has cut its first deal to supply streamed content to an online music service. Beginning in the first quarter of next year, Streamwaves will begin supplying music for playlists created by members of Uplister Inc. Uplister members will pay a nominal monthly fee for access to the service and then will be charged for playlists based on how many songs they stream and the demand for those songs.

Uplister is a community of music enthusiasts who share and discuss playlists with each other but can't yet actually listen to those playlists. Its deal with Streamwaves is Uplister's first step toward converting those playlists into shared music-listening experiences. "We want to make the playlist the format of choice for global music consumption," says Mike Taylor, executive VP and founder. "This deal's going to carry us a long way toward achieving that goal."

Meanwhile, Streamwaves sees the agreement as a watershed moment for its fledgling service. "What Uplister and other services will bring us is unique and intuitive interfaces," CEO Jeff Tribble says. "We want to become the streaming services provider for services like Uplister." To that end, Tribble is attempting to hammer out licensing deals with the other major music labels--Universal Music, Warner Music Group, BMG Entertainment, and Sony Music Entertainment--and hopes to be able to offer a wider range of content before the Uplister service launches.

Analysts agree that having major-label deals in place is crucial to the success of subscription services such as Streamwaves. "If you don't have all five majors, you're gonna have trouble," Gartner analyst P.J. McNealy says. "No one knows music by label." Jupiter Research analyst Aram Sinnreich says Streamwaves also should incorporate licensed content from the major independent labels. Regardless, Sinnreich says Uplister was a logical choice for Streamwave's first distribution deal. "Uplister's a very interesting answer to the question, how do you format a music subscription service in a way that's appealing?" he says. "I'll be very interested to see if it gains traction with consumers."

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