Dark horse FullAudio grabs another license

While high-profile players like MusicNet and Pressplay steal the spotlight in the online music battle, dark horse FullAudio Corp. announced its third significant license in a month Monday, this time with EMI Recorded Music Ltd.

The new agreement, coming on the heels of licensing deals with EMI Music Publishing and BMG Music Publishing makes FullAudio the first company to secure both sound recording and composition rights for an online subscription service, the company said.

EMI Recorded Music boasts rights to 30,000 to 40,000 songs, according to FullAudio, including music from artists such as Janet Jackson.

In order to lawfully offer music for download, companies must obtain both recording and composition rights, a provision which has sent online music players scrambling to negotiate deals with publishing companies and the Big Five record labels before they can offer their much-publicized services.

The fact that FullAudio has snatched what appears to be the first, albeit nonexclusive, recording and publishing license combo, places the company in the lead to provide an online subscription download service, which it hopes to offer listeners by the third or fourth quarter of this year.

"We like to see ourselves as the David versus industry Goliaths," said FullAudio President of Music Services James Glicker. "Partners are gravitating toward us because they want to have an independent partner."

Glicker added that rivals such as MusicNet, backed by industry heavyweights BMG Entertainment Inc., Warner Brothers Music Group Inc. and EMI Group PLC, and Pressplay, a Sony Music Entertainment Inc. and Universal Music Group Inc. venture, are at a disadvantage with the labels given their clear alliances.

"Why would you want to partner with a company largely owned by your main competitors?" said Glicker.

As for FullAudio, the 40-employee upstart doesn't plan to stop sealing deals anytime soon. The company is currently negotiating with two other record labels and expects to make another announcement in the next two weeks, Glicker said.

"By record industry standards, we are negotiating fast and furious," he said, adding that negotiations for the EMI license stretched a year.

When asked if there was concern that the record labels would negotiate similar deals with a variety of subscription-based services, Glicker seemed unconcerned.

"They don't throw their copyrights around willy-nilly," he said.

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