Behind the deal: Microsoft's payment to Universal Music is not protection money

Microsoft agreed to pay Universal Music over a dollar for each Zune it sells — and that's all the bloggers and commentators will report. But the New York Times, which broke this news, explains the payment is part of a deal in which Universal will license its music to Microsoft's new music download service.

Tech blogger Om Malik, for example, goes overboard in his commentary on the story, comparing Universal to the Mafia. "Any business that perceives its end customers as crooks and thieves should go the way of the a broken ice cream cone on a hot summer afternoon."

Please, Om, this is the New Wave — music companies demanding sweeter deals from more desperate media player makers. It's a Darwinian way to give good players — and by "good players" I mean "the iPod" — an advantage.

Microsoft Strikes Deal for Music [NY Times]
Microsoft, Zune & The Music Mafia [GigaOM]