BILL GATES has stepped into the online song sales market by launching his music licensing business, GreenLight, as an internet service which could evolve to rival iTunes.
GreenLight, the three-year old entertainment rights vendor, has ventured online with the backing of music giants Warner, EMI, Universal and Sony ATV and already has a portfolio of more than one million tracks.
The online auction house for music rights allows customers to bid online to negotiate a price for the rights to use a song for adverts, websites and stage productions – or to “get it now” for a selection of popular songs available for immediate purchase.
The website facilitates price comparison and allows users to browse according to themes – including “memories”, “driving” and “cocky” – and moods, from “restrained” to “euphoric”.
GreenLight is owned by Corbis, the digital images licenser founded by Bill Gates in 1989 when he gained the digital rights to art masterpieces such as the Mona Lisa and Whistler’s Mother.
Corbis has made a strong start to 2012, acquiring Norm Marshall & Associates – which facilitates product placement in films – in January, and in February launching On Demand Entertainment, a subscription service for licensing images.
Gary Shenk, chief executive of Corbis, said the move was about simplifying the complex process of music licensing to make popular music more easily accessible to the clients who might otherwise “have shied away” from the area.
Mark Pinkus, a Warner executive, praised GreenLight Music for coming “at a time when music is being used in more ways than ever before.”