Report: Yahoo may be next to offer unprotected MP3s

yahoo music logoOffering unprotected music MP3s on a download-to-own basis or as part of an ad-supported service is all the rage these days.

The Associated Press reports that — to no one’s surprise — Yahoo Inc. is in early discussions with major labels to offer MP3s free of digital rights management (DRM) for purchase or as a part of an ad-supported streaming music service.

Two record company execs familiar with the talks told the AP that Yahoo hopes to launch the service this year.

yahoo musicIt seems only natural now that the four major recording labels — Universal Music Group, Sony BMG, Warner, and EMI — are all selling some of their catalogues DRM-free on AmazonMP3 that they’d strike deals with as many online music stores as possible.

Just this past week, Target announced it was finally going to offer digital music downloads, beginning with a Sony BMG release “Live from Philadelphia” by John Legend. Target, which trails rival WalMart in the digital music download market, has not said if it will offer a full catalogue from Sony BMG and/or the other labels, or if it’s just going to focus on music promotions like Sony’s DRM-free Platinum MusicPass cards.

If Yahoo doesn’t go with an AmazonMP3-like store, it may strike deals with the labels to stream their music on an ad-supported basis, not unlike what CBS and just announced.

Yahoo, the first major music service to start offering MP3 downloads on a trial basis in late 2006, currently offers free streaming audio, music videos, and Web radio. It also offers a subscription service and premium Internet radio.

As the AP notes, Yahoo’s management last year said it will begin de-emphasizing its subscription model in terms an ad-supported service — or maybe a download store of its own.

last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

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