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27 janvier 2008

Cash boost for Gabriel's free music site

Peter Gabriel's free music downloads site has secured £3m in funding.

We7 has been pushing advertising-supported music in an attempt to encourage take-up of legal music downloads, as well as tap the growth in digital advertising. UK-based venture firms Spark and Eden Ventures teamed up with Gabriel for the second round of funding, with Eden co-founder Charles Grimsdale joining the We7 board.

The service has been trialling 10-second integrated adverts, which are tagged on to tracks and targeted at the demographic of the listener. Advertisers so far have included Microsoft's Xbox 360, Sony Ericsson, Cafe Direct and the Michael Moore film Sicko. We7 was launched publicly in May 2007 with initial investment from Gabriel and its chief executive, Steve Purdham.

Gabriel said We7's aim was to keep music free for consumers while maintaining some income for artists. "When advertising is smart enough to be a responsive information service, it is less intrusive for the listener and more effective for the seller," he added. The site offers a catalogue of 80,000 tracks through deals with independent bands and partnerships with the Sanctuary, Big Fish and mTunes labels. Last week, it reached its millionth download.

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