EMI plugs into Net venture

THE MUSIC group, EMI, yesterday unveiled a key plank in its strategy to build an Internet presence by acquiring a 50 per cent equity interest in musicmaker.com, a private US Internet supplier of compilation music, writes Bill McIntosh.

EMI's purchase coincides with plans for musicmaker.com to seek a US listing by month-end that is expected to value the company at over $200m (pounds 123m). A planned May float of the online company was pulled in order to do the deal with EMI.

EMI, whose artists include the Rolling Stones and Janet Jackson, said there was no cash element to the deal, but it will supply music from its back catalogue and current repertoire under an exclusive five-year licensing agreement.

"This is really expanding the way consumers enjoy music as well as creating tremendous new revenue streams," said Jay Samit, senior vice-president of new media at EMI Recorded Music. Musicmaker.com has over 100 other licence agreements with music rights holders and a current catalogue of 150,000 songs for compilation.

How much EMI will add to that depends on how many of the UK company's artists agree to release material for musicmaker.com's compilations. "This is the first deal of its kind where we're selling music on a song- by-song basis where we have participation with a major music label on an exclusive basis," said Bob Bernardi, chairman on the online firm.

Consumers will pay from $9.95 to $24.95 depending on the number of tracks for custom-compiled CDs.

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