Sometimes it’s hard to believe that giant media companies can get any greedier.

But their executives always seems to find a way to go even farther over the top.

Microsoft Corp. has agreed to pay Universal Music Group a fee for each new Zune digital music player it sells when the iPod rival launches next week, the companies said on Thursday.

“We felt that any business that’s built on the bedrock of music we should share in,” said Doug Morris, chief executive of Universal, owned by French media giant Vivendi.

The Big Monopoly from Redmond says the Zune “may take a while to be profitable”.

No wonder. They have to pay extortion to the likes of Universal.

Update: Peter Kim at Create Digital Music has a detailed explanation of why this agreement is bad for consumers and artists as well as for innovation by hardware creators. Thanks to Boing Boing for the link.

zune, universal, extortion