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Napster has won the backing of the UK's Association of Independent Music (AIM) trade organisation with a deal that will allow the digital music download service to offer 50,000 songs from 50 independent labels on a worldwide basis.

Meanwhile, UK-based Napster rival Wippit announced today that it has added Sony to its roster of major label content providers.

AIM has over 800 members, together accounting for over 25 per cent of UK music sales, though only a fraction of whom are providing tracks through Napster. AIM said it expects other "many other" members to begin licensing their content to Napster in the coming months.

Those licences, along with the ones announced today, will be administered by Rightsrouter, a company launched by AIM earlier this year specifically to bring copyright holders and digital music services together, and to manage the administration of those licences in the digital domain.

Meanwhile, Wippit's deal with Sony will provide the download service with "tens of thousands" of tracks, according to sources close to the company, though as per Wippit's arrangement with BMG, signed earlier this year, it can only supply them to buyers in the UK and Ireland. The BMG deal brought 10,000 songs to Wippit's catalogue.

Wippit said it expects to make the tracks available "this summer" - presumably after Sony has opened its own European online music store, Connect, on 7 June. Connect launched in the US earlier this month. ®

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