The media-sharing/social networking site Imeem has inked a deal with Universal Music, making it the first site of its kind to forge unholy bonds with all of the Big Four. Update: The WSJ's issued a correction of the original source article. Under the deal, Universal gets a "payment each time a user listens to a given song only if related advertising revenue falls short of a contractually stipulated benchmark." In other words, Imeem cuts Universal a check whenever the ad dollars don't make it to a set amount. So, Imeem's still basically bleeding out for its users to simply embed and stream music (i.e., promote artists for the labels).
No wonder labels don't want to deal with iTunes, this kind of deal is pure money: Imeem's paying the labels so that its users can do free promo work for them! Why pay to advertise your artists when someone else can pay you to do it? Hell, users even do all of the uploading work. If you recall, this kind of arrangement's familiar to Universal—they got kickbacks on every Zune sold—and more immediately, they've got a service going with Nokia that intuition says they're not hooked into for charity or a good time on your part.
While this deal's not really making too much headway in their battle against iTunes, it shows they're looking pretty much anywhere and everywhere that'll make 'em a buck while they look for an endrun around Steve. They probably won't get his contract with the devil canceled anytime soon, but it looks like they've found that internet thing they were looking for. Maybe they'll find that "Facebook" thing next. [WSJ]