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Google reaches handshake deal with Sony for music store

November 15, 2011 |  7:07 pm

AdeleGoogle, which is set to launch a digital music store on Wednesday, has reached a handshake agreement with Sony Music Entertainment to license its catalog, which includes songs by Adele, Sade and Foster the People, among others, said an executive close to the negotiations.

Once a deal is signed, as both parties expect, the only major record company not to jump on board with Google would be Warner Music Group.

EMI and Merlin Network, which represents more than 18,000 independent artists and labels, have agreed to let Google sell downloads from their music catalogs, and Universal Music Group is widely expected to also come to terms Wednesday with the Mountain View, Calif., technology giant.

The record companies and Google have declined to comment on their negotiations.

Google has been laboring for more than a year to obtain licenses from record companies to build a music service for its Android mobile operating system. But until recently, most have balked at granting Google the keys to their catalogs.

Record companies have been concerned over Google's ability to make money off of their content, of which they get a cut. Secondarily, the labels have also tried to extract Google's help in deterring piracy by censoring from its search results websites that traffic in stolen content.

The licenses that Google has secured for its download store, however, are just one piece of the  company's strategy to compete with Apple Inc.'s iTunes and Amazon.com, as well as a growing chorus of digital music services vying for people's time and attention.

In order to offer a streaming music service to rival Spotify or Rdio, for example, Google would have to negotiate a separate license from the music companies. A cloud music service that lets users listen to their music collections from any Web browser without having to manually upload their song files requires another type of license.

Sony's tentative agreement, first reported by Bloomberg, appears to pave the way for the two companies to talk about those other licenses.

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-- Alex Pham

Photo: British soul singer Adele is among the artists represented by Sony Music Entertainment. Credit: Malte Christians / EPA

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