iLike talks download store with music labels

The Facebook mainstay wants to stop sending 50 million users to other sites to buy music, sources said, and is close to striking deals with three top labels.

Update: 6:06 p.m.: To include iLike's hopes to open a download store in the next 30 days.

Facebook's most popular music service, iLike, is in talks with the four major music labels about opening a download store, multiple sources within the music industry said Tuesday.

According to the sources, iLike is close to reaching final agreements with at least three of the top record companies. The sources did not disclose which labels are close but added that iLike is hoping to open its download store within the next month.

A spokeswoman for Seattle-based iLike said: "iLike engages in ongoing discussions with the labels about a variety of ways we might work together. While we don't discuss the specifics...I can tell you that our goal remains the same: to facilitate music discovery and consumption across the Web."

Details are few about what an iLike download store might offer, but it almost certainly would sell songs in the MP3 format. Few, if any, of the top download services offer music wrapped in digital rights management anymore.

The talks come as many of iLike's competitors are already well into offering downloads backed by full-streaming music. Imeem has launched a test version of its download store, featuring music from major label Warner Music Group and multiple indie companies this year. MySpace has offered full-streaming music and downloads from all four top record companies since September.

Up to now, iLike's full-length music offering has been light. The start-up's 50 million registered users can sample 30-second music clips, but must go to iTunes or other Web retailers to buy songs.

Sources said iLike is hopeful that it can profit from cutting out those middlemen.

Last year, iLike struck a deal to offer songs in their entirety with Rhapsody, the music service operated by RealNetworks and MTV. That deal was never popular with the labels and eventually fizzled out.

The record companies don't want music services piggybacking on each other's libraries. According to one music industry source, Rhapsody's deal with the labels didn't include offering full-length songs on iLike.

iLike isn't a company that has generated a lot of positive press lately. All Things Digital reported last year that iLike was for sale. The blog also broke the story that the Rhapsody deal had gone sour when Warner Music and Sony Music Entertainment, had pulled their music from the service.

 

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