Music downloads: the heat is on

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Just a few hours until the official launch of Apple iTunes in the UK and already the cracks may be starting to show. microsoft and OD2 – the biggest distributor of online music in Europe – have just announced an online music download partnership while rumour has it that music from indie labels won’t be available via Apple’s iTunes service at launch.

Announced a day before the iTunes UK launch, Sonic Selector is OD2’s attempt to keep in touch with the US big boys, namely Apple and Napster, by forming an alliance with the biggest boy of them all, microsoft. An upgrade to Windows Media Player, it will be via the web sites of OD2 retailers including MSN, Tiscali, MTV and Packard Bell. Tracks will cost 75p or 0.99 Euros.

Meanwhile the word on the street is that Apple has failed to sign deals with major independents for UK music distribution. This is a major blow as the indies account for 25 of music retail sales in the UK with their music targeted at the very people who are likely to download tracks to their MP3 players!

The list of successful independent artists includes Basement Jaxx, Franz Ferdinand, Dizzee Rascal, So Solid Crew, The White Stripes, The Strokes, Royksopp, The Pixies, Lemon Jelly and Coldcut.

We will have full information on the Apple iTunes launch later today.

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