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Music Vids Get Free Rein at AOL Music

Los Angeles – America Online is set to reveal a dramatic new addition to its public Web presence Tuesday (April 19) with the announcement that it will make thousands of music videos available for free and on demand.

The media company disclosed an agreement with Universal Music Group (UMG), and a deal with Warner Music Group is expected shortly. Additional labels already are in negotiations as well.

AOL has begun encoding the videos and plans to put them up at www.aolmusic.com gradually as the technical work is completed, beginning this week.

America Online senior vp programing Bill Wilson said that AOL Music will create artist- and genre-based music video channels to maximize the entertainment value of the videos. It also will integrate them with AOL’s existing original music video programs, including AOL Music Sessions, exclusive in-studio performances and the AOL Music Live! concert series.

“We’ve only had current videos before. We’ve never had the deep catalog,” Wilson said. “As we go out and compete on the open Web and monetize that audience with advertising, we thought it was time to update our business model.”

Licensed access to this broad range of content will give AOL more editorial freedom to create new programing, playlists, thematic packages and other creative options, Wilson added.

The video channels will include advertising in different forms, most commonly banners and in-stream messages.

Wilson said that AOL Music receives more than 22 million individual visitors a month, citing comScore Media Metrix reports for March, which he said is an attractive target audience that he expects to increase with the continued addition of desirable new content.

UMG secured a pioneering video-on-demand (VOD) agreement for music videos when it entered a deal with Microsoft’s MSN Internet service last year.

“We are delighted that AOL recognizes that content creators should fairly share in the revenue generated from their work,” Universal Music Group chairman and CEO Doug Morris said. “It’s clear that there is huge consumer demand for music VOD products, and we are committed to delivering our artists’ videos and music to fans in as many new and innovative ways as possible.”

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