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News Corp. raises bet on digital music

MySpace Music's parent company acquires small stake in music start-up Beyond Oblivion, which has yet to acquire music rights in the U.S.

News Corp.--the newspaper, TV, and film company built by media mogul Rupert Murdoch--sees something in digital music it likes.

News Corp. founder Rupert Murdoch Dan Farber/CNET

News Corp. has acquired a small stake in music start-up Beyond Oblivion, which plans to enable consumer electronics makers to preload music on handhelds, computers, and other gadgets, according to multiple music sources.

Beyond Oblivion did not respond to interview requests. Allen & Co., the well-known boutique investment bank, was also part of the $10 million series B funding round.

With MySpace Music, News Corp., already has acquired a significant position in digital music. That site is run in partnership with the four major recording companies. MySpace Music has yet to take up a leadership position with the likes of Apple's iTunes or Amazon. Overall, the digital music sector with the exception of iTunes has failed to generate much excitement among the general public.

According to multiple sources, Beyond Oblivion still has to acquire music rights. Managers there have approached the major music labels about acquiring licenses for the United States.

Details are scant about what exactly Beyond Oblivion offers, but it sounds like this company wants to offer something similar to Nokia's Comes With Music, a service that loads music on handsets sold in European and Australia. Nokia offered free access to the songs only for a specific period.