Sony, Warner Music Pull Full Songs From iLike. Look Out, Theoretical Facebook Music Offering!
Last summer, iLike rolled out a new feature: Visitors to the upstart music site would be able to listen to entire songs from all the big music labels for free, via an arrangement with RealNetworks’ Rhapsody, which already had a license deal with the big guys. But Sony (SNE) and Warner Music Group (WMG) have since pulled their songs from iLike.com, say people familiar with the situation.
PR reps at both Sony, Warner and Real declined comment. iLike offered this statement:
From day one, iLike has offered only music that is fully licensed from copyright holders, via a combination of direct licenses as well as third-party relationships such as Muze and Rhapsody. From time to time these arrangements are renewed and re-negotiated, and sometimes it’s hard to avoid temporary outages in the middle of discussions.”
This isn’t a huge problem for iLike, as the “outages” only affect the offerings at iLike.com itself, and not iLike’s popular Facebook app, which is the core of its business. That’s because the Facebook app has never offered users the chance to listen to full songs from the big labels. And iLike has other pressing issues to deal with: The company is actively looking for buyers.
But it does point out one of the challenges that iLike and anyone else who wants to build a music service, or extend an existing one, face: They can’t automatically assume that someone who has deals with the music labels, as RealNetworks does, can take those deals and transfer them to a new service.
This has particular implications for Facebook, which is still exploring the possibility of launching its own music service. If Facebook wants RealNetworks (RNWK) or any other existing music service–like, say, MySpace Music–to operate a music offering on its behalf, it’s going to have to get the labels themselves to sign off on the deal. That’s not an impossible hurdle–note that RealNetworks has been able to offer free music at Yahoo (YHOO) since this fall–but it will slow things down.