Pressplay and MusicNet are preparing to launch this year. Pressplay was formed by Vivendi Universal and Sony Music Entertainment; MusicNet is backed by Bertelsmann, AOL Time Warner, RealNetworks and EMI Recorded Music parent company EMI.
The non-exclusive agreement gives Pressplay access to EMI's music catalogue, featuring such artists such as Snoop Dogg and Lenny Kravitz. EMI's catalogue adds some 50,000 songs to Pressplay's musical offering, expected to total about 125,000 songs when the service launches.
Analysts believe the deal to mark a convergence of online music. Although neither Pressplay nor MusicNet are live yet, both are reportedly under preliminary investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ) for antitrust concerns.
Executives representing both services have mentioned that they could cross-license each other in the future, spurring fears of an online music monopoly.
But despite some industry-watchers' concerns, EMI Recorded Music senior vice president of new media, Jay Samit, pointed out that EMI is already associated with 40 online music sites, ranging from Internet-enabled jukeboxes to Streamwaves, an up-and-running, Dallas-based online subscription site.
"Unless online music sites have all the music that fans expect, there will be problems," Samit said, noting that it would be against the labels' best interests to limit their online distribution channels.
In terms of protecting content, Samit said that EMI supports a variety of digital rights management technologies, depending on what each service uses.
"Our strategy at EMI is to make buying music as easy as stealing it and stealing it a hell of a lot harder," Samit concluded.