FreeAllMusic Seals Universal Music Licenses

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Some content deals are more important and others, and on Monday, the ad-supported FreeAllMusic ( scored a big one.

The company finalized a licensing agreement with Universal Music Group, a great starting point for a broader licensing sweep.  The deal was disclosed by FreeAllMusic chief Richard Nailling and UMG eLabs executive vice president David Ring.

Historically, startups have paid handsomely for the right to use major label content.  But FreeAllMusic has less cash than its earlier-generation predecessors, and a more relaxed deal may have resulted.  The scale of the deal is also unclear.  Either way, a partnership with the biggest major helps to pave the way for more majors (and indies, publishers, and others), and also helps to validate the model a bit.

FreeAllMusic has already corralled a number of big-name brands to sponsor its free – and DRM-free – download model.  In essence, brands get exposure, while users get a free download for sitting through an ad.  As part of the private beta, the site will be giving away 20 songs per user per month – 5 per week – to stimulate consumer interest.

At present, a formal release date remains undetermined, though earlier, the company pointed to a first quarter launch.  “ is keeping with its ‘walk before we run’ philosophy in slowly building its user and advertiser base,” the company shared.