EMI, HitHive to Allow Music Downloads Through Loan-and-Buy Program

EMI Recorded Music and HitHive Inc. are developing a program to loan and then sell digital music to wireless device users.

Consumers worldwide will have access to EMI artists' music via all types of portable devices, including wireless phones and personal digital assistants, according to the companies.

HitHive's Loan and Borrow program will allow users to invite friends to listen to their music though a PC or Web-compatible device for a specified number of plays. Once they have listened to a shared track, they can buy the song or album and have it automatically downloaded to their collections.

They also can rate songs, review cuts and trade opinions with other music fans via HitHive.

EMI and HitHive plan to initiate the program with Sprint PCS this summer. Sprint PCS will add the program as a subscription service in its My Music section, said Cynthia Land, public relations manager at HitHive, Seattle.

The deal allows HitHive to generate revenue for wireless partners via music subscription services, music-based promotions, digital music commerce, and streaming and downloading features.

Taking a cue from the flap over Napster's file-swapping service, EMI and HitHive promise the system will protect artists and copyright owners, since consumers can only download the music when they purchase it. EMI represents about 1,500 artists internationally in almost every music genre.

“HitHive is harnessing the excitement of sharing digital music with friends, while incorporating the controls needed to protect copyright owners and open an untapped revenue stream,” said Mark Tucker, chairman/CEO of HitHive.

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