One of the most popular features on iLike, the fast-growing music site/Facebook app, gives users the ability to place 30-second song snippets of their favourite songs on their profiles. But anyone who likes U2, 50 Cent, or any other artist signed to Universal Music Group is temporarily out of luck: UMG has forced iLike to pull its music off the app.
What’s going on? Neither side will comment, but people familiar with the situation say that part of the problem lies with the agreements both companies have had with Muze, a middleman which powers the “sampling” feature on a host of web sites. UMG had licensed its music through Muze, which in turn subbed the rights to iLike; now
UMG’s deal with Muze has expired, and the music label and iLike are trying to hammer out a direct deal. Update: Muze marketing VP Lee Ho tells us that his company still has a deal to provide samples for UMG, which makes things slightly fuzzier.
The bigger picture is that UMG’s Doug Morris continues to be aggressive, to put it politely, about trying to extract payment from Web sites or other companies that want to use his music — the “exposure as payment” notion hasn’t flown for quite a while. Hence his insistence that MySpace stop providing full-length streams on UMG artists’ pages, and that sites like iMeem, et al, pay substantial upfront fees for streaming rights. Even Microsoft has played along, ponying up a tariff on each Zune player sold. The only person who has yet to give Morris what he wants: Apple’s Steve Jobs.
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