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Muze attracts fourth major label

The company signs its fourth licensing deal with a major record label, securing rights to stream samples from Universal Music Group for its audio preview service.

Entertainment information company Muze said Tuesday that it has secured rights to stream music samples from Universal Music Group, marking its fourth licensing deal with a major record label.

Under the nonexclusive agreement, New York-based Muze will tap Universal's songs and album art as promotional samples for its audio preview service, called MuzeTunes. The service provides Web stores with audio clips in Microsoft's Windows Media Audio format.

Since Muze launched its preview service last year, the company has been striving to form ties with major record labels. Four months ago, Muze secured rights to Sony Music Entertainment's songs, saying the deal would help the record label market and sell its music to online shoppers. In addition, Muze has licensing deals with BMG Entertainment and Warner Music Group.

"MuzeTunes was designed to help promote and sell music online," Paul Zullo, executive vice president of Muze, said in a statement. "Universal Music Group represents some of the most influential artists of our time, and we are committed to working with them to help drive sales of their music throughout the U.S."

Muze provides computer catalogs of music, books and video titles that serve as the search directories for Web stores at sites run by America Online, Yahoo, Tower Records, Virgin Megastores and MTV. These companies sell products by major record labels, movie studios and publishing houses.

The licensing deal comes as the record labels are struggling to interest consumers in music sold legally over the Web--particularly through their subscription services, Pressplay and MusicNet. The music industry has blamed free song swapping via the Internet for the drop in global music sales. In 2001, worldwide music sales dropped 5 percent to $33.7 billion, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), a record industry lobbying group.