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Sony taps into creative Muze

Entertainment information company Muze secures a deal to stream Sony Music Entertainment songs and display musicians' front cover album art.

Entertainment information company Muze said Tuesday that it has formed ties with Sony Music Entertainment to stream music samples for online promotions.

Under the licensing deal, New York-based Muze has secured rights to Sony's vast catalog of songs and is authorized to stream the tunes as promotional samples for its streaming audio preview service, dubbed MuzeTunes. Launched in May, MuzeTunes provides retailers with audio clips in Microsoft's Windows Media Audio format. The deal also gives Muze the authorization to display front cover album art.

"Our agreement with Muze allows music fans to listen to samples online before they purchase music from their favorite Sony Music Entertainment artists," Jim McDermott, a senior vice president at Sony Music Entertainment, said in a statement. Muze's "widespread reach throughout the industry will help Sony Music Entertainment market and sell its music to millions of online shoppers."

The announcement comes shortly after Muze settled a patent infringement lawsuit with digital music company Intouch Group. The Berkeley, Calif.-based company sued Muze, Amazon.com, AOL Time Warner's Entertaindom, Liquid Audio, Listen.com and Loudeye Technologies' DiscoverMusic, accusing them of infringing its patent covering a potentially wide range of music for downloading and streaming.

Muze provides computer catalogs of music, books and video titles that serve as the search directories for retail outlets such as Virgin MegaStore, Amazon and Yahoo. These retailers sell products by major record labels, movie studios and publishing houses. In addition to Sony, Muze has licensing deals with BMG Entertainment and Warner Music Group.

Tuesday's agreement comes as Sony is making aggressive moves to bump up its online music sales. At the end of last year, Sony and Vivendi Universal unveiled Pressplay, a music subscription service with songs from Sony, Universal, EMI Recorded Music and independent labels. The service was introduced shortly after the launch of rival MusicNet, a joint venture by RealNetworks, AOL Time Warner, Bertelsmann and EMI.