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eMusic debuts across Europe

Knives being sharpened for iTunes

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American music download second fiddle eMusic finally gets a pan-Europe launch today.

iTunes' closest challenger in the US follows the Napster monthly subscription model. It touts itself as the place to go for independent labels, with a focus on acts from the likes of Beggars Banquet, Rough Trade, XL and Domino. The relationship between this sector and iTunes has been difficult in the past.

eMusic CEO David Pakman said: "The monopoly of iTunes in Europe is over. European consumers, fed up with homogeneous music and services focused only on mainstream pop can now discover a wealth of music created to transcend rules, boundaries and commercialism." As an Apple employee, Pakman was largely resposible for the formation of the firm's Music Group.

eMusic's launch has sought indie-baiting PR capital from figures stating 95 per cent of iTunes revenues come from 5 per cent of its inventory.

eMusic charges £14.99 per month for 90 tracks, or £0.17 for each song. Downloads are MP3 format and there's no code to lock files down if users cancel their subscription to the service. The marketing machine will be targeting this autumn's new cohort of undergrads with offers tied to student banking.

Increased competition is unavoidable for Apple in the music arena with eMusic and upcoming services from MySpace, Microsoft and Spiralfrog. Apple is expected to announce its expansion into video downloads this afternoon. By Christmas 2007 the move could look either a wise diversification for iTunes, or like Apple taking its eye off the ball. ®

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