Microsoft has tapped Music Reports to handle the publishing licensing activities for the Zune music service. Under the deal, Music Reports will administer all mechanical licensing and reporting responsibilities needed to allow Zune to sell and stream music from the service.

Zune representatives say the deal applies only to the Zune Pass subscription service, not the Zune Marketplace for a la carte sales, and that there is no change to the Zune Pass catalog.

The Zune Pass service has had some hiccups in this area that has led to several songs and entire artist catalogs briefly and indefinitely disappearing from the site, causing a great degree of speculation as to what the cause might be. Zune Pass subscribers who downloaded tethered tracks - which require monthly authentication to play - found some tracks would be removed from their device upon synching with the computer.

Microsoft never directly commented on the issue, but the problem is widely assumed to be the result of either publishing claims against the songs in question or other contractual issues.

What this deal means for Zune's existing relationship with MusicNet remains unclear. Zune uses MusicNet for all its music licensing and delivery needs, which may or may not have included publishing administration.

Representatives from MusicNet did not immediately reply to request for comment before this story was posted. Billboard will update once we hear more.