Ad-supported music just won another convert. Music-sharing social network imeem struck a deal with EMI Music so that starting today its members can legally stream songs from Radiohead, Coldplay, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Interpol, Daft Punk, the Beastie Boys, and every other EMI artist. EMI joins Warner Music and Sony-BMG as the third major label to strike a deal with imeem. That only leaves Universal Music Group among the majors to sign a deal.
After hitting a few bumps in the road, imeem seems to be hitting its stride. Comscore shows it as one of the fastest growing social sites, with 3.2 unique U.S. visitors in September—although that’s down from a peak earlier in the year. (The company claims 18 million unique visitors worldwide).
Imeem is that rare Web music sharing site that has convinced the labels to play ball by splitting its ad revenues with them every time someone listens to one of their songs. Right now, imeem only has display ads, but it will soon offer in-stream audio ads and video overlays as well. Members can upload their own MP3s to imeem and create a playlist that anyone else can stream. The company relies on Snocap’s audio fingerprinting technology to determine how to split up the proceeds.
The problem there is that Snocap (founded by Napster’s Sean Fanning) recently cut its staff and may shut down. The best hope for imeem is that Snocap finds a buyer (trust me, it’s looking) who will keep its service going and honor its contracts. Otherwise, Caldwell will be singing the blues.