The label is Universal Music Group, which just struck an agreement with TuneCore. Under the terms of the deal, TuneCore will manage Universal Web sites designed for unsigned acts to upload their songs. For Universal it means a possible heads up when it comes to the next big thing.

For TuneCore, which, for a fee, distributes music from unsigned artists to online outlets such as iTunes and Napster, the collaboration means the service has a direct line to a major label. Drake and NeverShoutNever have already snagged record deals via TuneCore, so the label hopes it just might spot possible top-of-the-charts gold in all those indie artists chasing the dream.

National instrument retailer Guitar Center, which has a financial stake in TuneCore, is also in on the plan and will sell the Universal / TuneCore CDs in its 200 stores.

“What’s in it for the artist is the opportunity to move up into a larger system,” said TuneCore founder and CEO Jeff Price, who described the Guitar Center placement part of the deal as helping “a band feel more legitimate and more real.”

However, not everyone is singing the praises of the new partnership. Entertainment lawyer and Universal’s former executive VP of business strategy Lawrence Kenswil described the alliance as a mere marketing op.

“What is clear is that they would like their CDs to be sold in Guitar Center,” Kenswil said.

Click here for the TuneCore Web site.

Click here for the Universal Music Group Web site.

Click here for the Guitar Center Web site.