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AIM sings Napster’s tune

Internet music provider strikes deal with indie labels

LONDON — Online song store Napster has signed a worldwide distribution deal with the U.K.’s Assn. of Independent Music.

Initially, 50,000 tracks from 50 of AIM’s 800 member companies will be available for digital downloading and streaming through the new Napster service when it launches in the U.K. this summer. Napster members in the U.S. will also have access.

The licensing deal will be made available to Continental European labels under the Impala (Independent Music Companies Assn.) umbrella.

Deal, negotiated by AIM’s new-media arm Musicindie and administered by Rightsrouter, includes repertoire from Coldcut, Mr. Scruff, Billy Bragg, Roots Manuva, Kid Koala, Cinematic Orchestra, A Man Called Adam and the Orb. Many other AIM members are expected to take advantage of the agreement over the coming months.

“Napster is going to make a big difference to music fans in the U.K. It also takes our music to fans around the world, confirming the promise that the Internet can deliver a global business to independent artists and record companies,” said AIM chairman and chief executive Alison Wenham.