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YouTube, Universal near new video deal

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Universal Music Group and Google’s YouTube are close to sealing a deal to build a new home for music videos on the interwebs.

Under the proposed agreement, YouTube - propped up by Google’s technology and advertising sales support - would distribute Universal’s video content to other websites, according to anonymous sources cited by the Wall Street Journal.

The new site carries the working title of Vevo. Indeed, a quick search via Whois reveals that Vevo.com currently points at Universal’s servers.

Talks are still going on and no final agreement has been reached. But a deal could be inked within the next few weeks, according to the paper.

Universal is the biggest record label in the world and has artists such as U2, Amy Winehouse and Beck on its roster.

Such a deal would be YouTube’s latest attempt to plump up its profits by selling more expensive ads off the back of premium content. Music videos are an extremely popular draw on the site, which Google bought in October 2006 for $1.65bn.

It is not clear at this stage if YouTube is in similar talks with other record labels to create their own tailored premium online music video service.

"We are always working with our partners to find creative ways to connect music, musicians, and fans," said the video sharing site in a statement.

The Big Four record labels - Universal, Sony Music, EMI and Warner Music Group - have recently been renegotiating licensing deals with YouTube to allow it to continue to offer users their music videos.

Sony renewed its contract with YouTube in February, EMI is currently locked in talks with the firm, and Universal's present deal expires at the end of this month.

However, late last year discussions between YouTube and Warner stalled after the two firms failed to reach a licensing agreement and Warner's content was subsequently removed from YouTube.

Earlier this week rock star Neil Young hit out at the video sharing site, claiming it unfairly punishes artists because it fails to equally compensate individual musicians and record labels. ®

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