Digital music company eMusic is rumored to be up for sale, according to various reports, but that hasn’t stopped it from signing licensing deals with big music. This morning, eMusic announced that it come to an agreement with Warner Music Group and that it will soon begin selling tracks from WMG’s roster of artists to its U.S. users.
The agreement includes titles from WMG’s Atlantic Records, Rhino Records and Warner Bros. Records as well as from independent labels distributed through WMG’s Alternative Distribution Alliance (ADA) stable that are not currently sold on eMusic. The deal will make 10,000 catalog albums from artists like REM, Depeche Mode and Aretha Franklin available for downloading, but does not include newer hit records.
eMusic says it currently offers more than 7.5 million tracks, and that it has sold more than 350 million music downloads under its current ownership. The company sells monthly membership plans beginning at 24 credits for $11.99. One of its rival, FreeAllMusic, yesterday announced that it had signed an agreement with Universal Music for ad-supported downloads.
eMusic CEO Danny Stein reiterated earlier rumors about its plans to complement the company’s subscription-based music download service with streaming, telling Reuters that the company is currently in talks with label partners for new licensing deals that would allow registered users to stream songs, similar to services like CBS-owned Last.fm and LaLa (which Warner Music Group invested in and was recently acquired by Apple).
Streaming would be added in 2010, provided rights holders come to terms with the realities of new business models, Stein said. We’ve contacted the company for more information about its streaming plans, such as timing and pricing.
Interestingly, Stein didn’t dismiss rumors about a potential sale of eMusic, but told Reuters that a buyer would have to pay its owner, Dimensional Associates, for a successful 2010 and 2011 upfront in order for them to consider it.
Which sounds to me like something that you would say if you were definitely up for sale.