File-sharing company LimeWire continues to make content deals even while its financial and legal future remains in doubt.
On Tuesday, the company announced it added Merge Records to the download store (which is had operated alongside its file-sharing service since March 2008). The Merge catalog includes new releases such as Caribou and She & Him as well as titles by Arcade Fire, Lambchop, Superchunk, Spoon and Neutral Milk Hotel. The Limewire store has six million tracks. The store’s value to labels varies, but distribution executives tell Billboard LimeWire is not a major source of revenue.
In addition, LimeWire claims it is still on track to launch an unlimited music download service before the end of the year.
“We’re on schedule with development of the platform and are currently testing features that we plan to include – a desktop media player, mobile applications, and a web-based music experience for downloading and streaming,” a spokesperson tells Billboard. “The goal for our new service is to create a music experience for consumers that is unmatched by any other.”
LimeWire’s founder, Mark Gorton, and its parent company, LimeGroup, have been found liable of inducing copyright infringement. The RIAA has asked the court to freeze LimeWire’s and Gorton’s assets. According to the RIAA, Gorton told its lawyers he placed assets in a family trust to avoid the threat of a legal judgment. A permanent injunction against LimeWire could shut down the file-sharing service.
Previously, LimeWire indicated its music service would be drastically different from all others in one important regard: an open format. “When using our new music service for standard MP3 downloads, it will be compatible with virtually every mobile device,” the spokesperson told Billboard last month.
If it ever sees the light of day, a LimeWire music service wouldn’t find much competition if launched soon. Rhapsody is the biggest subscription service in the country. Newcomers like Rdio and MOG are just getting off the ground. Music services from Google and Apple are rumored to be on their way, however, and Spotify says it will launch in the U.S. before the end of the year.