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Is the EMusic deal more than PR in Gateway’s tussle with the record biz, and a way to make its site stickier as it peddles machines designed to make file-sharing and CD-copying easier than ever?
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Warner/Chappell-Warner Special Products
Shop OneStop, EMusic Gets With Gateway
The week may be young, but it’s already shaping up to be one of the most active ever, as far as new online music offerings are concerned.

Hot on the heels of the new BurnITNOW service from EMI Christian Music Group and Liquid Audio (see story, 4/29), two other debuts have hit the wires.

Publishing giant Warner/Chappell Music and WMG licensing rep Warner Special Products have collaborated to offer an online licensing service, OneStopTrax, designed as a virtual express lane for pre-cleared music and price quotes for "discrete" uses—preventing separate trips to the publisher and affiliated labels.

Users can search by genre, and see breakdowns of cost for film use (broken down by main title, end title or use in body of film), TV, industrial, student film or film festival. Track information includes songwriter credits and share breakdowns, PRO affiliation, tempo, subject matter, chart info and gender of vocalist. Among the pre-cleared tracks are songs by Soul Coughing, Paul Westerberg and his band the Replacements and Pantera.

"We’re cutting out a lot of the legwork that was involved in music licensing, and providing producers and music supervisors with a solution that’s affordable and convenient," proclaims W/C VP New Media Steve Scott. "And I just know one of these days I’m going to meet a supervisor who can take my screenplay to Mr. Spielberg."

Other music publishers have rolled out—or will soon launch—similar online platforms, but this is the first launched in concert with the licensing arm of a label-group sister.

But that kind of collaboration is unlikely to raise many eyebrows. EMusic’s new pact with computer giant Gateway, however, raises some intriguing questions.

Gateway has been publicly feuding with the entertainment biz over lobbying by the RIAA and MPAA for legislation that would mandate copy-protection and other restrictive technology in new consumer hardware. The PC outlet began running "issue ads" trumpeting consumers’ "rights" regarding legal digital music—with more concentrated advocacy on its website.

The campaign infuriated, among others, RIAA chief Hilary Rosen, who damned the Digital Music Zone area of Gateway.com as "a gateway to misinformation."

Nonetheless, the site is hosting a promotion for a 30-day free trial of EMusic’s MP3 download service, during which times consumers can grab up to 100 tracks (out of the service’s 215,000 available songs) for nothing. They can then sign up for either $14.95 per month for a minimum three-month sub, or agree to a year at $9.99 per month. The service claims to have "more than 45,000 subscribers already."

Whether the promotion significantly increases EMusic’s membership base, it certainly can’t hurt Gateway’s efforts to establish itself as an advocate of copyright-respecting online music—and, of course, sell its new 500X Music PC, with CD-writer standard.

Of course, EMusic is owned by Vivendi Universal, which also owns UMG, which is represented by the RIAA, which is mad at Gateway.

Is the EMusic deal more than PR in Gateway’s tussle with the record biz, and a way to make its site stickier as it peddles machines designed to make file-sharing and CD-copying easier than ever?

On the other hand, aren’t the makers of such machines obvious partners—along with broadband providers—for authorized digital music services?

As usual, we have more questions than answers.

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