Microsoft inks storage deal for MSN music service

In its third major label deal in a week, Listen.com Inc. said Monday that Sony Music Entertainment Inc. has agreed to offer its vast catalog of music through Listen's Rhapsody subscription service.

This is Sony Music Entertainment's first licensing deal with an independent online music company, Listen said, and brings Rhapsody one step closer to its goal of offering music from all five major labels. Listen just sealed deals with EMI Recorded Music Ltd. and BMG Entertainment Inc. last week.

The deal will add 125,000 songs to the streaming music service from thousands of Sony artists, Listen said. The label boasts big name singers such as Jennifer Lopez, Macy Gray and Michael Jackson.

While Listen may be the first independent player to gain access to Sony 's musical treasure chest, the label is a backer of rival music subscription service, Pressplay, which it formed with Vivendi Universal SA. Still, Listen said that the deal is giving it a leg up over Pressplay, MusicNet and the new subscription service being launched by Napster Inc. in terms of the total number of songs it now has in its catalog.

But unlike its rivals, which offer music downloads as well as streams, Rhapsody is a streaming music service only.

While the other services duke it out online, Listen said that it is working on obtaining agreements with the remaining major labels.

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