Free-Music Site SpiralFrog Strikes Deal With EMI

SpiralFrog Inc., which operates an ad-supported, free music and video download Web site, said Monday it will soon begin offering content from Coldplay, Keith Urban and other recording artists as part of a new licensing deal with EMI Music.

Terms of the deal between the New York-based company and Britain-based EMI Music, a unit of EMI Group PLC, were not disclosed.

The EMI deal gives SpiralFrog users access to content from two of the four major recording companies.

SpiralFrog inked a licensing deal with Universal Music Group prior to launching last September.

"You're going to see that users on our site are going to see a lot more content, so there's going to be far fewer searches where they won't find music they're looking for," said Joe Mohen, SpiralFrog's chairman and founder.

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The ad-supported service lets users in the U.S. and Canada download audio tracks and music videos for free. It pays labels and other rights holders with ad revenue.

Visitors must register and log on to the site at least once every couple of months. Otherwise, the content locks up and can't be played.

SpiralFrog downloads also are not compatible with Apple Inc.'s line of iPods. Tracks can be downloaded onto certain devices running Microsoft Corp.'s Windows software.

Mohen said the company is pursuing content licensing deals with other labels but declined to say whether talks are being held with the two remaining major recording companies — Warner Music Group Corp. and Sony BMG Music Entertainment.

SpiralFrog is seeking to grow its audience so it can lure more advertisers and revenue. Growing its catalog of music is key.

Universal Music accounted for about 31.2 percent of all U.S. album sales this year through May 25, according to Nielsen SoundScan. EMI accounted for about 8.7 percent.

Sony BMG and Warner Music together accounted for nearly 46 percent.

Independent labels, some of which already license content to SpiralFrog, accounted for about 14.1 percent of U.S. album sales, the firm said.

SpiralFrog says it will make more than 1.1 million tracks and 4,000 music videos, not including EMI's content, available to users within a few weeks.

"We will clearly have most major label content on our Web site by the end of the year," Mohen said.

Mohen said the company was still about a year away from turning a profit.