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Zune plays nice with the Labels

Microsoft digital music initiative’s marketing guru says Zune is in it for the long haul and plans to play nice with the labels.

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif.–With a stranglehold on both the MP3 player and digital download markets, Apple’s iPod/iTunes juggernaut has largely been able to strong-arm the major labels in negotiations over the deal allowing iTunes to sell music downloads.

But in an effort to play catch-up, Microsoft’s Zune, which launched last November, is taking the nice-guy approach, according to Chris Stephenson, Zune’s general manager of global marketing.

“We want to be positive and proactive, and we are very much in lockstep with the industry,” Stephenson told the crowd at the Music 2.0 conference today. “If that is a major shift in what [the labels] have experienced with our competitor, that’s good. We’re trying to build this together.”

As evidence of that, Microsoft agreed to give label giant Universal Music a cut of sales from its Zune player in exchange for licenses to sell Universal music in the Zune Marketplace store.

The software giant also agreed to limit its Wi-Fi music sharing–which lets Zune users send each other music through Wi-Fi connections–to just three plays in three days for a received song.

“The labels are very cautious about it at the moment,” Stephenson said. “Nobody wants three days, three plays–nobody wants to be that restrictive. So there is too much restriction at the moment, but we’re trying to find that balance.”

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Microsoft, Zune, Labels

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