Reforms of the music licensing sector are succeeding, with a growing demand for European Union-wide licensing replacing national applications, the European Commission said Tuesday (Oct. 3).

Reforms of the music licensing sector are succeeding, with a growing demand for European Union-wide licensing replacing national applications, the European Commission said Tuesday (Oct. 3).

The Commission, the EU's executive authority, said new entities and agencies were taking advantage of the change of law to bypass traditional national collecting societies and seek EU-wide licenses.

The claims come exactly a year since the Commission adopted rules allowing artists and groups just one license to sell their music online in the EU's 25 member countries, as it overhauled the convoluted procedures on collective licensing.

"There is demand for EU-wide licensing, and it is now becoming a realistic option," said EU internal market commissioner Charlie McCreevy in a statement. "Rather than existing societies competing, EU-wide licenses will be offered by new emerging platforms, pooling the repertoire of several publishers or societies. Three such schemes had already been announced, and many rights-holders are enthusiastic about the new possibilities."

McCreevy said the entire structure of licensing was changing as a result of the new rules as online shops, record companies and broadcasters reassessed their licensing relationships with artists. "We have seen music publishers being offered more seats on the boards of collecting societies - in line with their economic weight," he said.

One of the reasons given for the Commission reforms was that music licensing was archaic and opaque. But McCreevy said that over the past year there has been increased financial openness and accountability. "We have seen more willingness on the part of societies to be open about deductions, including those not related directly to the provision of services," he said.

The rules aimed to create a system ensuring music rights could be cleared efficiently on an EU-wide basis. The Commission said the complicated bureaucratic system already in place -- involving national societies in all 25 EU countries -- was impeding the growth of Web-based music services such as Apple's iTunes Music Store and Yahoo! Music.

However, Victoriano Darias, senior legal advisor for GESAC, the European authors and composers said the growth of EU-wide licenses would result in a two-tier system: one for Anglo-American music and another for the rest of Europe's local repertoire. "EU-wide licensing creates other problems, as artists will go to the cheapest society with the lowest copyright protection," he said.