News Corp. has approached the four major record labels to discuss launching an online music service through its popular MySpace social networking site, music company executives familiar with the talks say.
The media conglomerate envisions a one-stop music service that offers content in various ways, including via free digital streams, as MP3 downloads and through a subscription plan, one of the executives said.
News Corp. proposed launching the service as a joint venture with the major recording companies, which would receive an equity stake in the new company, the executive said.
The music company executives spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
MySpace declined to comment Wednesday.
A call and e-mail to a News Corp. spokeswoman was not immediately returned.
Representatives for the recording companies — Vivendi SA's Universal Music Group, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group Corp. and EMI Group PLC — declined to comment.
MySpace has been a popular music hub for years, prompting established acts and unknown bands alike to create profile pages that often let visitors stream a few songs. Bands on MySpace also can sell downloads of original music directly through their profile pages.
The company may be looking for ways to maintain its lead on rival social network Facebook, which has been gaining in popularity.
With sales of CDs in a protracted decline, recording companies have licensed their content for sale as unprotected MP3s and for free streaming on ad-supported sites such as imeem.com and Last.fm.
News Corp. faces a potential deal hurdle with Universal, the largest of the recording companies.
Universal sued MySpace in 2006, claiming the portal illegally encourages its users to share music and music videos on the site without permission. That lawsuit is still pending.
Sony BMG is a joint venture of Sony Corp. and Bertelsmann AG.