Major Record Labels to Compete With iTunes, Spotify and Pirates

The world’s major record labels, are starting their own music streaming service in the U.S. this quarter that will challenge Apple Inc.’s iTunes, after years of letting start-ups license their artists.

“Music Unlimited powered by Qriocity,” which Sony unveiled in September, started in the U.K. and Ireland in December and in France, Germany, Italy and Spain this weekend. It’s available on Sony’s Playstation 3 game console, Blu-ray Disc player, Bravia televisions, personal computers, and will be on smartphones using Google Inc.’s Android operating systems.

“We took a long time looking at music before jumping in,” Tim Schaaff, the chief executive officer of Sony Network Entertainment, the division of Sony overseeing Music Unlimited, said at the MIDEM music industry conference in Cannes, France this weekend.

Music Unlimited, which has more than 6 million songs, lets Sony Music Entertainment and partners Universal Music Group, EMI Music and Warner Music Group effectively cut out middle men and gives them more control over revenue. The music industry has long struggled to come up with alternatives to combat counter steep drops in number of CDs being purchased and rampant piracy.

(More here)

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