Universal Music Group is to license its repertoire direct to streaming service Last.fm - sidestepping its previous arrangement with collection societies such as United Kingdom organization PPL.
The news follows the announcement earlier this year that EMI Music Publishing would license performing rights for its EMI April Music catalog direct to digital music service providers in the U.S. That move was seen by some as part of a wider shift away from collective licensing in the digital sphere. UMG's latest deal with Last.fm will only add further fuel to the fire.
"We have made the decision to license Last.fm directly for all of its tiers of service on a worldwide basis," a spokesperson for UMG tells Billboard.biz. "We think that for a global partner, a single deal makes the licensing process far simpler and more efficient." Last.fm could not be reached for comment.
The new deal will replace Last.fm's previous arrangement whereby rights were licensed through a combination of direct deals with the music major, as well as through PPL and other collection societies. Last.fm's license deals with other major labels, indie aggregators and rights holders are not affected. Universal will continue to "mandate PPL to license other online radio services after considering in each case what will be most efficient for the partner," adds the spokesperson.
Commenting on the deal, a PPL spokesperson said in a statement: "PPL licenses a range of digital services on behalf of its members under non-exclusive mandates for the requisite rights."
"Universal Music has simply chosen to license the service provided by Last.fm as part of a worldwide agreement it is negotiating. PPL would like to thank Universal Music for keeping them fully informed of their decision at all times."