UPDATE: Universal Music Group Offers Pay-Per-Song Software, Awaits Napster Ruling

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Universal Music Group has been aggressively marketing its pay-per-song music download technology as it awaits further court rulings on Napster, a Web company that allowed visitors to download songs for free.


UMG, New York, has signed several twofold agreements during the last two weeks with music e-tail firms.


The music retailers will be able to use UMG's download software called bluematter. The other part of the agreements will result in at least 60 songs from the record label's catalog being available for downloads at those e-tail sites, where the songs will be sold for $1.99 per title.


A few of the music sites that have penned deals with Universal Global e, UMG's e-commerce services division, include Rollingstone.com, Excite@Home, Lycos Music and BestBuy.com.


UMG's technology/music distribution deals were sparked by a partnership it struck with three technology firms -- InterTrust Technologies Corp., Magex Limited and RealNetworks Inc. These agreements led to the creation of bluematter.


Bluematter allows viewers to send song samples to friends who will have the option of purchasing the complete track. Also, a music e-tail firm can allow song purchases to include biographies and photographs of the artist as well as lyrics and credits to the title.


Napster Inc., Redwood City, CA, received a stay of a court ruling that found it had violated copyright law. This allowed the free music download site to stay in business, at least until the lawsuit goes back to court.


UMG may have something to gain by seeing Napster shut down, said Lauren Hackett, spokeswoman at UMG.


She said it's probably impossible to determine how the final ruling will impact her company's business, in terms of revenue generated by downloads of proprietary songs or money made from licensing bluematter.


"The consumers will ultimately decide," Hackett said. "If [bluematter] catches on, I'm sure other record companies will be interested in using the software. If someone else's software catches on, I'm sure Universal will be interested in that."

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