The music world buzz this weekend has nothing to do with the Sunday’s Grammy awards. It’s about a federal inquiry into “Total Music”, Universal Music Group’s plan to create its own subscription service.
The Department of Justice has sent letters of inquiry to both UMG and Sony-BMG, one of the three big labels Universal was trying to convince to join the project. People familiar with the situation tell us that the feds are looking for records and documents dating back to late October, when UMG began discussing the project in earnest with potential partners.
But Total Music has yet to launch, and as best we can tell, it may never do so: We’re told it’s nowhere near clearing the business and technical challenges it would need to get going, and that in any case it doesn’t have any agreements with any partners. So what is the DOJ looking at? And most interestingly, who complained to them?
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