Sony BMG France has signed an agreement which will provide users of French ad-supported on-demand streaming service Deezer with unlimited free access to 165,000 titles.

"This deal is experimental," says Christophe Lameignère, chairman and CEO of Sony BMG France. "The model seems to have a promising future, and one of the main interests to us is to see under which conditions it works or not, how we can give greater satisfaction to our customers and how we can make the model more interesting to us."

Deezer is a "digital jukebox," explains co-founder Jonathan Benassaya. End-users, he says, upload their own music, which is then scanned via U.S. fingerprinting solution Music IP.

While the business model is currently based on advertising, Benassaya says Deezer is considering launching an unlimited download service, which would be based on paid subscriptions.

While details of the deal have not been disclosed, Benassaya and Lameignère confirm Sony BMG's remuneration is mainly based on a percentage of Deezer's advertising revenue.

"Our profession is changing," notes Lameignère. "One of the potential models is based on streaming, so investing this field seemed mandatory to me."

In August, French authors, composers and publishers collecting society Sacem signed an agreement with Deezer, which was also based on an undisclosed share of its advertising revenues, with a minimum set per streaming packages.

Lameignère says the music major is in talks with other streaming services. "If they are taking the business seriously and if they don't serve as a rear base for piracy, we have no reason not to work with them. I want to congratulate Deezer for their decision to really make business.

"Deezer is a practical answer to piracy," claims Benassaya, who adds that the firm is currently in talks with several European ISPs to integrate the music service in their offer. In August, France's third ISP Free added a permanent link to Deezer on its homepage. Benassaya says a new version of the service will arrive by the end of October, which will include a social network and music news features.

Named Blogmusik until last August, the service had actually closed in March 2007 after an action taken by Sacem and by independent record labels collecting society SPPF. The service vowed to go legal and re-launched in April. However, Universal Music France issued a press release in August protesting against the use of its catalog without their agreement.

Sony BMG is the first record company to grant their rights. Deezer's offering to date has included 250,000 titles from the four major companies and from many independent labels, many of which are uncleared. While acknowledging this, Benassaya says negotiations are ongoing with the remaining major companies. An agreement with SPPF is close, he says.

Deezer claims a million registered members to date, up from 300,000 a month ago.