EMI loads up tunes for Euro Net service

Buyers can get songs prior to an album's release

NEW YORK — EMI is launching what it calls the biggest digital music initiative in Europe, offering more than 140,000 tracks for download from the Net from 3,000 EMI artists via third-party retailers using the distribution technology of U.K. firm OD2.

Under the terms of the program, music buyers will be able to burn their tracks to a CD-R, or transfer them to a portable player once they’ve downloaded them. They’ll also be able to get many songs on the same day they’re serviced to radio — prior to an album’s release.

Among the artists covered under the initiative are many of Europe’s biggest sellers including Coldplay, Kylie Minogue and Robbie Williams, and American Norah Jones. The digital catalog has a few major absences — most notably the Beatles and the Rolling Stones — though sources said the label may be close to working out a deal for online distribution with the latter act.

EMI’s tracks will be carried via 20 online retailers in six countries including HMV and Dotmusic in the U.K., Wanadoo in France and Karstadt in Germany. MTV will sell the tracks in five countries through its own sites.

Deal expands the label’s Euro digital catalog by more than half — and offers more than triple the number of tracks made available in the U.S. in November in a blanket licensing deal. The bigger rollout across the pond is due mainly to the larger repertoire of local talent in each European country.

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