EMI signs retail deal to sell music online

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The Independent Online

The music company EMI yesterday signed up Wippit as an online retailer of its music in a move that brings the number of online shops selling EMI music in Europe to more than 50.

Separately, Napster said it was launching a legal online music service in the UK by autumn. Universal Music, meanwhile, said its European unit had converted its active catalogue into digital form so that some 300,000 songs can be sold in online music stores.

The developments are part of the music industry's attempts to encourage consumers to download music from the internet on legal websites as they battle against unauthorised downloading.

Earlier this year it emerged that Tesco was also going to muscle in on the act. The supermarket chain is planning to launch a service that will allow customers to download popular albums and tracks direct to their PCs or mobile devices.

Downloading music has become an increasingly popular way to buy music, with singles costing about 99p and albums about £8. EMI announced a music download programme about a year ago when it made over 140,000 tracks available to about 20 online retailers. It said there were now more than 175,000 tracks available. Tony Wadsworth, the chairman of EMI Music UK, said: "EMI's goal is to deliver music to consumers through as many new channels as possible."

Napster, which has transformed to legal from an illegal site, remained tightlipped on what it planned to charge customers. However, its chairman Chris Gorog said: "In January digital downloads outsold singles in the UK, clearly establishing demand for world-class online music services."