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"We want to offer music fans the greatest selection of artists and the widest selection of technology."
——EMI's Jay Samit
EMI TO PLAY WITH PRESSPLAY
Label Becomes First of Big Five to Go Both Ways
In a move that’s seen as a way to reach as many online music users as possible, EMI will now license its songs to online subscription service Pressplay, becoming the first label to work with both of the planned web music distribution services.

Pressplay and its rival, MusicNet, have said that they both hope to offer music from all five major record labels. But so far, that has not come to pass as the majors have aligned into two separate entities.

EMI has an ownership stake in MusicNet, which is also backed by AOL Time Warner, Bertelsmann and RealNetworks, while Pressplay is owned by Sony and Vivendi Universal.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the announcement, expected Tuesday from EMI and Pressplay, bolsters the position of the Sony-Universal venture.

The deal comes as the Justice Department's antitrust division is scrutinizing the labels' online services, the Journal added. The pact may help to dispel at least one concern, by showing that companies with an ownership stake in one of the services are willing to license their music to the other service.

Under the terms of the deal, which was confirmed to the Wall Street Journal by several people familiar with the matter, EMI won't take an ownership stake in Pressplay. It will license all the music distributed in the U.S. for which it holds digital rights under terms similar to those it granted MusicNet, the people said.

EMI made the deal because "we want to offer music fans the greatest selection of artists and the widest selection of technology," said Jay Samit, Senior VP in charge of new media for EMI Recorded Music.

A spokesman for Pressplay said that the service is "working to form relationships with as many labels as possible in order to offer the broadest possible music catalog to our customers."

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