Microsoft Makes Beautiful Music Online

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No, not that merger the other merger. Sure, the massive merger between EMI and Time Warner's music division, announced this morning, is a big deal. But almost lost beneath the hullabaloo were some other deals that will have enormous consequences for the online music space in particular, two deals involving our old friends from Redmond, Washington.

Not that the merger of EMI and Warner (which like TIME Digital is part of Time Warner) is anything to sneeze at. Music publishers are beginning to face up to the fact that because it exists in the handy form of information, music is ideally suited to distribution via the Internet. There are still dozens of important questions to be answered about how exactly that distribution will happen how will users pay for it? what format will the files come in? but the industry is beginning to accept that it will happen, and music companies are looking around for strong Internet partners to pair off with. When Time Warner and EMI become Warner EMI, they'll have just such a partner in AOL.