Muzu, Warners sign content deal


Dublin-based music video website, whose founders were named as 2009 Net Visionaries by the Irish Internet Association (IIA) just last week, has signed a major deal with Warner Music.

The agreement enables the website to broadcast thousands of videos from Warner Music's roster of acts which include artists such as James Blunt, Green Day, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Paolo Nutini.

The deal means that Muzu has now signed agreements with all the major leading music labels - Warner, Universal, EMI and Sony BMG, giving it a distinct advantage over Google's popular YouTube video website, which recently had to block access to videos from the 'big four' due to a dispute over licence fees.

Like YouTube, Muzu allows fans to create, watch and share content such as music videos, concerts, back-stage footage, documentaries and interviews.

As part of the new deal, Warner Music and Muzu are to share revenues generated by advertising through the site and its video player.

Ciaran Bollard, CEO and co-founder of Muzu said today that the deal represented a major coup for the company.

"Warner's content is not available on YouTube so we are now one of the only sources for videos by artists such as Madonna and Muse," Mr Bollard told the Irish Times.

"The agreement is significant because Warner's are actually working closely with us and will be syndicating our player onto artist pages on Bebo and other websites. The deal essentiall means that we are essentially the label's preferred video partner," he added.

Mr Bollard said that having agreed deals with all the major music labels, Muzu was aiming to take on YouTube.

"The main focus of the business right now is generating huge traffic from the UK and Ireland and making sure we have profitability on that business and then we intend to really aggressively go after the US from the start of next year, " he said.

While refusing to disclose users numbers, Mr Bollard said Muzu had had "aggressive growth" in traffic in the UK and Ireland during the last number of months.

Although Muzu are confident of boosting users at the expense of YouTube, yesterday, the Performing Rights Society (PRS) in Britain announced that it was to reduce its royalty rate for digital music sites making it more likely that music videos will return to Google's subsidiary shortly.

Under the PRS's new pricing structure digital sites such as M uzu will pay 0.085p per track streamed online compared to the former rate of 0.22p. The revised rates are effective from July1st.

Mr Bollard welcomed the new pricing structure saying that while it might induce YouTube to come to a deal with the major music labels it would also benefit Muzu as it will pay less for license fees.

"We've got a lot of good approach from the music industry because of the approach we've taken, which has involved licensing with collection societies. The fact that we're a 100 per cent music service also makes a huge difference as well," he added. was established by Mr Bolllard and Mark French in July 2008.