Labels don't have a whole lot of hope for ad-supported music service, but that doesn't mean they won't license to them still. Universal Music Group just reached an agreement to license music to the latest ad-supported foray, which launched in invite-only beta mode last month.

From the release:
"Through this agreement, thousands of tracks representing many of the world's most prominent artists are being made available now in FAM's current private beta period, where users will be offered up to 20 free downloads per month, five per week, starting every New Music Tuesday. This is based on the usage patterns of a typical "hits-oriented" iTunes customer. is keeping with its "walk before we run" philosophy in slowly building its user and advertiser base."

UMG's David Ring, executive VP of business development and business affairs, negotiated the deal. In an Q&A with Billboard earlier this year, Ring said the label is open to licensing to anybody, under any model, so long as the deal provides UMG with the right level of compensation.

"Rather than picking one horse in this race, we like to bet on a number of them," he says. "If we're right, we'll have a number of horses serving different segments of the customer base and we'll have multiple winners."

UMG late last year reached a licensing deal with ad-supported service Guvera.

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